Italy backtracks on cinema ticket rise

Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:33pm EDT
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ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government has backtracked on a decision to raise the price of cinema tickets and cut funds for cultural events following an outcry by top artists in the country and the center-left opposition.

A statement from the culture ministry said on Wednesday the conservative government had reinstated 236 million euros ($335 million) of funds for the ministry which had previously been cut or frozen.

Tax credits for film-making would be financed through higher taxes on fuel and not, as had previously been announced, through a one-euro rise on cinema tickets.

The government decree includes measures to improve the state of the archaeological site of Pompeii, hit by a series of building collapses in recent months after years of neglect.

Actors, musicians and artists, who had been up in arms since the cuts were announced, hailed the government's U-turn.

"The mobilization by those working in the industry, but also by ordinary citizens and intellectuals, has borne fruit," said Walter Vergnano, head of Turin's Regio theater.

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno publicly thanked conductor Riccardo Muti, who earlier this month had made an impassioned appeal to Italians to oppose the reductions to arts funding.

A strike planned for Friday at Milan's opera house La Scala has now been canceled.

(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Steve Addison)