In 2014, the Italian Ministry of Culture introduced a new tax incentive: the Art Bonus. Its aim is to promote cultural patronage and involve civil society in the protection of cultural heritage. The new tax break has achieved consistent economic results in a limited period of time: over 450 million euros were raised between 2014 and 2019 thanks to the contributions of nearly fifteen thousand donors, and over two thousand organisations all over Italy have sent their applications. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the Art Bonus has allowed to widen and diversify the audience of donors and beneficiaries compared to two already existing tax incentives for the arts, the Cultural Patronage Law and the Art.15. After performing a quantitative analysis on donations, taking into account elements such as the type of contributors and recipients, the annual amounts donated and the regional distribution of funds, results have shown that the Art Bonus was half successful. The number of donors has dramatically increased over the years, and new actors are now patrons. Although large corporations and banking foundations continue to be the benefactors responsible for the highest donations, donors such as private individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises and philanthropic foundations have become more and more important. With regards to the recipients, the Art Bonus did not have the same success. Famous cultural heritage institutions, especially those located in northern and central regions, are the ones receiving the largest contributions. Smaller and less known cultural organisations have applied for funding, but their projects have received very little or no support. As a result, not funded or partially funded projects exceed completed projects at a national level. To promote a more inclusive implementation of the Art Bonus, three policy suggestions have been made. First of all, the MiBACT should carefully choose how to communicate with the public. The two marketing campaigns realized in 2015 and 2019 to promote the Art Bonus have neglected the local dimension of cultural heritage, negatively influencing the behavioural response of donors. Furthermore, a carefully structured implementation program should guide the promotion of the tax incentive. Numerous initiatives have been realized between 2014 and 2019, but a coordinated effort is needed and more importantly southern regions should be the target of new information event and workshops. Finally, instead of using public subsidies to support less popular projects, the MiBACT should give smaller organisations the tools to learn how to manage fundraising campaigns. By doing so, they will be given the change to become more financially indipendent and cultivate a stronger relationship with their donors.

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Dekker, E.
Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship , Master Arts, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Coppola, Sara. (2021, July 15). Where are we now on the Art Bonus? An evaluation of tax incentives for the protection of Italian cultural heritage. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from