Controversy in Sicily over funding for the performing arts

The complaint is very detailed. The 103 entertainment entities that signed it have scrutinized the list of contributions totaling 13.1 million that Ars and the Region have disbursed in the first months of this year without a tender. It emerged that associations and private structures established even in June 2023 without experience were awarded.

Another case erupts around the regional Tourism and Entertainment department, the same one involved in the case of funding without a tender for the Cannes exhibition and in the judicial investigation on the waste of funds from SeeSicily for tourism promotion. The assessor Elvira Amata defends herself by explaining that the funds were disbursed in accordance with an Ars law. However, the 103 entities signing the complaint announce their intention to resort to the judiciary, believing that the Ars’s law is a “provisional law” (thus illegitimate) and that the principle of not creating disparities in treatment vis-à-vis public administrations has been violated.

It’s a lit fuse. And beyond the explosion, at the moment only potential, it allows us to focus the spotlight on a phenomenon. That of contributions disbursed without a tender. The entities gathered in the General States of Entertainment (association founded in 2013) calculated that this amounts to 11 million and 113 thousand euros. In particular – as stated in the complaint – the so-called Financial Linked to the January Financial Statement allocated 7 million and 483 thousand euros, which went to only 16 private associations: “The contributions range from 97 thousand to 145 thousand euros each. In one case it goes up to 194 thousand and in another up to 242 thousand.”

Furthermore, the complaint notes that in the budget variations approved in late December 2023, another 5.6 million was allocated for Christmas events, which translate into shows, parties, and festivals “always to the advantage of a limited number of public and private entities.” In response to this, the 103 entities signing the complaint point out that the only contributions they could access, because a tender is foreseen, are those of Furs (the Single Entertainment Fund) which are worth, however, half, 6.8 million.

Assessor Amata shrugs: “The disbursed contributions are the result of Ars regulations. We have no discretion over them.”

The complete article by Giacinto Pipitone in the Giornale di Sicilia is available today at newsstands.

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