New York (Brussels Morning) Italy is investing millions of euros on a streaming platform that will include opera, visual arts, and archaeology, demonstrating the country rich cultural heritage and showcasing the breadth of Italy’s performing arts.
ITsArt, dubbed “the Netflix of Italian culture”, made its European debut in the Colosseum last week. Officials promised virtual excursions to archaeological excavations at historical sites, interviews, and more than 1,250 live and on-demand events. The 19 million euro-sponsored project is available across the European Union’s 27 member states plus the United Kingdom.
This transactional video-on-demand service commissioned by Italy’s Ministry of Culture is the first of its kind. Programming spans virtual monuments and museum trips to opera, pop music, ballet, and theatre performances. It also offers access to more than 1,250 movies and television episodes, some licensed on an exclusive basis, others on a revenue-sharing basis.
A move inspired by the pandemic
The move to establish the service and maximise dissemination of Italy’s artistic and cultural heritage abroad was sparked by the pandemic restrictions, which saw major Italian cultural institutions trying to function without visitors. Their response was to turn to digital distribution outlets. ITsART is accessible on most digital devices. Streamed content will offer subtitles in Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish.
Much of the featured material will come courtesy of partnerships with more than 100 cultural institutions around Italy. In addition to the Uffizi Galleries, the Galleria Borghese, the Alleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma, the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, and the Fondazione Prada are among those contributing to this exhibition. Performances by the Teatro Alla Scala and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma will also be available.
In addition, according to an official press release, the platform has signed agreements with Cinecittà, the legendary Italian film company, and several other film businesses and film festivals.
Italy, a major tourist destination, renowned for its excellent cuisine, culture, and variegated landscape, was struck particularly hard by the pandemic, with travel restrictions costing the economy 121 billion euro in 2020.
Further expansion of the platform is planned, including the addition of original material and an eventual roll-out in the United States and China.
Chili TV, the European on-demand cinema platform supported by Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, and Sony, operates ITsArt with a 49% ownership share. The 51% majority share is held by the Italian government’s investment bank CDP (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti).
Viewers will be able to access many of the titles for free with advertising, but registration is necessary to access all the content. A pay-per-view option is also available.