A View From Italy - Should We Be Concerned About The Future Of Arts Media?


A collection of photos from Lorn's trip to Mittelfest.

We work on lots of international work at Mobius, from A Korean Festival of DanceNoda Map, May 35th, Cirque Kalabante, and Kosovoto our work representing international projects at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and we’re always keen to get under the skin of the local arts and media scenes.

This month Senior Account Executive Lorn was in Gorizia with Mittelfest – they share some reflections below.

Last week I travelled to Gorizia, in the Friuli region of Northern Italy for the premiere of La Cripta dei Cappuccini (The Emperor's Tomb), a piece of theatre created by Mittelfest as part of a wider project celebrating the cities of Gorizia and Nova Gorica being named the first cross-border European Capital of Culture.

Nestled in a picturesque mountain range, the cities of Gorizia and Nova Gorica sit on the border dividing Northern Italy and Western Slovenia. The two cities share a border that can be walked across, but differ drastically in their architecture, age, layouts and culture. Even so, these cities are part of a project created to break down the borders and differences between the cultures, with artists pioneering the collaboration of the cities as one community sharing the same goal of celebrating the arts and culture of the region.

Mittelfest’s project consists of three plays forming a trilogy which will premiere over the next year before being performed at GO!Borderless 2025, a festival celebrating Gorizia and Nova Gorica sharing the title of European Capital of Culture next year, the first time two countries sharing a rich history of variety of cultural influence have collaborated artistically on this scale.

During my time in Gorizia, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Italian journalists who had travelled from Milan for the premiere, and I was interested to learn about their perspectives on theatre criticism and media in Italy.

I was interested to learn that the arts media landscape in Italy mirrors that of the UK, with publications having their arts space cut, particularly for regional publications. After walking across the border to Nova Gorica, the Slovenian side of the city, I sat with an Italian journalist from Sole 24 Ore, an Italian newspaper who publishes an arts section on Sundays. As arts coverage is shrinking in Italy, she told me her paper could only cover two theatre and arts stories a week, and has some strict rules about what could be covered. Due to her limited space, her paper will only let her cover theatre which has significant future life across the country, meaning plays touring Nationally to major cities in Italy. Understandably, with so little space, younger grassroots Italian creators struggle to have their stories told and their work covered in the media. It is only the higher budget theatre projects by more established practitioners who are lucky enough to be covered in the media.

I certainly felt this sense in Italy that there was a missing demographic reflected in the journalists, the creators and the audiences at the theatre. The young generation of thespians were nowhere to be seen, the journalist told me this is common in Italian theatres and young creators are discouraged from pursuing careers in the arts due to the limited funding, support and interest in their work. Earlier this year, Mobius released the results of our State of The Arts PR Survey, which indicated that reduced arts space in media publications are the key worries facing the industry. This concern ripples through the continent similarly, with the other Italian journalists and publicists I met with sharing in this struggle and concern for the next generation of theatre makers and theatre journalists.

Whilst the media landscape seems to align similarly to that of the UK, something very different was the sense of event of the press night. The Italian journalists and publicists were dripping in glamour and sophistication and, as I arrived at the theatre in the classic jeans and a nice top I threw in my bag just in case, I felt suddenly underdressed and underprepared for an Italian premiere. The Italians and Slovenians really know how to celebrate the opening of a show, everything from the dinner to the reception were lavish, and the hospitality they showed those of us from the UK who made the journey out was nothing but warm and welcoming. There was such a sense of celebration, with many of the guests partying late into the night. We need to step up our game this side of the channel!


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