Italy's proposed budget cut sparks protest

Demonstrators upset that only 0.3% goes to arts, culture

ROME -- Thousands of protesters gathered in the Italian capital's Piazza Navona on Tuesday to demonstrate against proposed cuts in the Italian government's spending on culture, which includes funds for specific cinema and television programs.

More than 50 professional associations, trade unions and schools joined the protest, which included well-known film directors such as Nanni Moretti and Ettore Scola.

Overall, cultural spending from the government in 2011 will total about half what it did in 2009. In 2008, the latest figures available, Italy spent around €400 million ($495 million) on cultural projects, with around a fifth of that earmarked for audiovisual programs for cinema and television. The rest is split between music, prose, dance, theater and art.

Protesters on Tuesday noted that Italy spends only 0.3% of the government budget on cultural initiatives, well behind the European average of 1.5%.