Thumbs up for Palazzo del Cinema funding

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ROME -- The final remaining obstacle blocking the start of construction for Venice's new Palazzo del Cinema was removed Friday after the government's inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Programs, or CIPE, gave a thumbs up to the budget request of €20 million ($28.2 million) required to start the project.

The new building will eventually replace Venice's crumbling Fascist-era Palazzo del Cinema, the central building of the Venice Film Festival every summer. Festival organizers have said for years that without better infrastructure the Venice event would struggle to maintain its status over the coming years.

The funds approved by CIPE will be enough to start work and it will represent the bulk of the national government's contribution to the €77 million ($108.6 million) project. The rest is expected to come from regional and municipal government funds and from private sources.

According to plans, construction on the new 70,000 square-meter (750,000 square foot) project will begin early next year and be completed no later than 2011, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Italian state.

The approval from CIPE was widely expected, though it came about two weeks later than originally scheduled due to the Italian parliament's drawn out debate over the country's 2008 budget. The delay from CIPE is not expected to have an impact on the construction schedule.
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