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Italy: Italy looks for help with heritage management
Italy's leading tourist attractions including the Colosseum could soon be in foreign hands as the country seeks new directors from around the world to make its museums more profitable.

Italy looks for help with heritage management
The Colosseum draws 5.5 million visitors a year 
[Credit: NZ Herald]

In the biggest shake-up of arts and culture of modern times, Matteo Renzi, the Prime Minister, has announced that the Government is to run advertisements in the Economist on January 9 to recruit new administrators "because we want to have the best directors in the world".

The leadership changes are part of a dramatic shake-up of the arts spearheaded by Dario Franceschini, the Culture Minister, in an attempt to make the country's galleries, museums and historic sites more profit-driven. Italy boasts nearly 3000 cultural sites that attract 77 million visitors a year.

The Colosseum alone draws 5.5 million of those.

Among the other "super museums" Franceschini wants to develop are the Borghese Gallery and National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Under a government decree, Franceschini hopes to generate earnings of more than 2 billion ($3.16 billion) in 2017, with further growth in the years to come. Italy's museums, galleries and archeological sites generated only 380 million in revenue in 2013, according to La Repubblica newspaper, and cost 350 million to operate.

The minister's office declined to comment on the new plans. But, according to La Repubblica, Franceschini wants to model Italian museums on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and add more restaurants, gift shops, guides and accessories that will attract more visitors and ultimately more profits.

He also wants to create 18 new regional offices with responsibility for the country's biggest artistic sites and grant more power to individual directors who run them. Italian media also said he was expected to appoint 12 new directors-general within his ministry who would manage specific sectors such as tourism, cinema and live theatre.

Franceschini has openly favoured other measures to increase tourism by "adding value" to the country's heritage and strongly supports corporate sponsorship.

He recently backed a move to bring live cultural events and concerts to ancient monuments such as the Colosseum because he said they needed to be "brought alive" for visitors from around the world.

In June, he launched a $50 million appeal to preserve the vast Domus Aurea palace built by Emperor Nero beside the Colosseum.

The Domus Aurea, loosely translated as the Golden House, is a sprawling complex of interconnecting dining halls, frescoed reception rooms and vaulted hallways on the hill opposite the ancient amphitheatre.

"The state has very limited resources unfortunately," said Franceschini at the time.

"This is an opportunity for a big company to sponsor an extraordinary project, which will capture the world's attention. It would be scandalous if no one comes forward."

Source: The New Zealand Herald [December 26, 2014]