From the manga fever in France to the picaresque in Italy of the cultural bonus

Emmanuel Macron, participa en un encuentro con jóvenes como parte de su programa para salir de la crisis.
Emmanuel Macron, participates in a meeting with young people as part of their program to get out of the crisis. EMMANUEL FOUDROT / POOL (EFE)

France, where, after an experimental phase, last May President Emmanuel Macron extended the so-called cultural passport to the entire territory of 300 euros for those who have just turned 18 years, a debate has been opened about its unforeseen consequences. A calculation released by the BFMTV chain, a few weeks after it came into force, indicated that the 71 % of book consumption went to Japanese manga comics. The figures may have varied, but they highlight the possibility that the voucher, accessible by a mobile application, ends up being a form of indirect subsidy to a specific sector, such as manga or the entertainment industry. Another critic points out the danger that those who use it the most are urban youth with purchasing power and habitual consumers of culture, which would not serve to bridge the so-called cultural divide between territories and social classes. The budget of 2021 foresees 80 million euros for the measure.

In Italy, the Executive of Matteo Renzi implemented in 2016 the so-called bonus culture. An initiative, the same prime minister explained recently, born just after the attacks in the Parisian concert hall Bataclan to counter hate speech through culture and promote social integration.

The Government thus activated aid that today reaches 500 euros for any young person who that year he would come of age. The voucher can be used for the acquisition of cultural products such as music, cinema, books, theater or foreign language courses. It is individual and has a limited time of use. Italy knocks down Executives and the work carried out at breakneck speed. But the bonus has survived the four post-Renzi governments. The initiative has been a success in its five editions. The first four, in fact, there were 1.6 million registered people who spent around 730 million euros. Even so, each year they remain in the box untouched around other 200 millions of euros originally allocated to this plan .

The picaresque was also used for a long time, and some people traded in this type of bonus on the internet. The trick consisted in monetizing the 500 euros in discounts by selling them for a slightly lower sum to whoever needed to make use of them.

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