The Italian “Bonus cultura” paved the way


A pioneer in terms of the culture pass, Italy introduced it in November 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Matteo Renzi, then President of the Council, had announced the establishment of this new system, intended to combat misunderstanding and violence through access to culture. The following year, the Bonus cultura was introduced, endowing 18-year-olds with a check for €500.

The beginnings were a little laborious, only 60% of the age group concerned having taken the step to benefit from this “Renzi Bonuses”. With a budget of 300 million euros, the measure primarily benefited the book publishing sector (78% of purchases).

At the same time, a black market is flourishing, casting an unfortunate shadow over a virtuous idea. However, the Bonus was confirmed, the Italian public authorities considering its “Positive results, its beneficiaries more and more numerous”, while book professionals defend this significant support for their sector. The share of young readers would have increased from 46.8 to 54% since the implementation of the Bonus.

With the arrival in office of the new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, openly critical, the reform of the Bonus cultura is announced from the beginning of 2023. It will only be awarded to young people from the least privileged homes and to those who, whatever their situation, will have obtained their baccalaureate with the maximum mark. The opposition rose up against these modifications which it considers discriminatory under “meritocratic” looks.


After France, the Italian model has also spread to Spain: since 2022, nearly 500,000 young people who have reached their majority have received a check for €400, the Bono cultural joven introduced by the socialist government of Pedro Sanchez. Launched on July 21 for a budget of 210 million euros, this pass meets very specific specifications: 200 € are allocated to performing arts, exhibitions and heritage monuments, cinema and reading in the library; €100 is intended for the purchase of cultural goods on physical media, including books and magazines; and €100 to digital products. One month before the closing of membership applications, mid-October 2022, 50% of potential beneficiaries had already taken the process to obtain their Bono cultural joven.

And now Germany has decided in turn to adopt the device. Limited to €200, the Kulturpass should be aimed at 750,000 young people aged 18 from April. Like its European neighbors, Berlin aims to support the cultural sector damaged by the Covid pandemic and wants to encourage young people to rediscover a taste for going out. The focus is on indie offerings rather than entertainment giants. Thus, as in France, platforms like Amazon are not eligible for the scheme and Germany plans, if the initiative is successful, to extend it later to 15-17 year olds.

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