Italian Government Will Give Every 18-Year-Old Over $500 to Spend on Cultural Activities

Young Italians and legal residents turning eighteen years old in 2016 will each receive a “culture bonus” of roughly $560 from the federal government to spend on “cultural products and events.” The initiative will kick off on September 15, 2016 and run through December 31, 2017, El Mundo reports.

The total allocation, for which approximately 550,000 eighteen-year olds will be eligible, will cost an estimated $330 million in public funds. To receive the bonus, those born in 1998 must register on the website and download the “18app” app on their mobile phone. The money can be spent on books, theater, concerts, exhibitions, and museums, but not on the purchase of recorded music. This was immediately denounced by Enzo Mazza, president of the Italian Music Industry Federation, who said that the cultural bonus discriminates against the recording industry.

In an article published by the Corriere della Sera, government undersecretary Tommaso Nannicini stated that 18app sends a clear signal: “The message is that our community embraces your adulthood and reminds you of the importance of cultural consumption; not only for your personal enrichment but also to strengthen the country’s social fabric.”

Nannicini further emphasized that this cultural bonus “for once” will allow funds to promote culture and will not be “allocated through bureaucracy” but by the youths’ own decisions.

According to The Telegraph, prime minister Matteo Renzi announced the initiative last November, ten days after the terrorist attacks in Paris. After he declared the government would increase funding for security by one billion euros he decided to match that sum for euros spent on culture. “We will not give in to terror,” Renzi said. “We have centuries of history that proclaim the fact that culture will beat ignorance, that beauty is more tenacious than barbarism.”