Almost half of Italy's current arts budget—496 million euros—goes to opera companies such as La Scala. The government, under prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, wants to reduce that spending by 164 million euros per year over the next three years.
In a statement, Lissner said, "Europe as a whole can't just be the Europe of the economy: to continue on its historical path with its head held high, it must assign itself cultural projects and support them through and through. . . Because of the exceptional richness of its artistic heritage, Italy must set the example."
He added that he hoped the government would "find a solution."
According to the London Guardian, the unions representing Italian film workers, also affected by the cuts in funding, have called for a strike on October 14, and are urging theaters to join them.