It’s a great time to be coming of age in Italy. The government is offering a ‘culture bonus’ of €500 to every person celebrating their 18th birthday right up to the end of 2016.
The scheme gets underway next week and is designed to give those reaching that seminal time in their lives a little spending power to buy cultural items. The Local reports that all residents born in 1998 will get the cultural financial boost. They can decide themselves what they want to spend the money on – be it concert tickets, books, cinema, theatre tickets or even trips to museums or national parks.
More than half a million teenagers will directly benefit under the programme. And while the cost will bore a €290 million hole in the country’s coffers, the government says it is a case of money being well spent. Tommaso Nannicini, the parliamentary undersecretary in charge of the project, told Corriere that they want to show the teenagers that they are an integral part of the community. It is also a way of welcoming their coming of age. Nannicini added that it underlines the importance of culture consumption in enriching a person and it emphasises that culture is an important part of the fabric of Italian society.
A special app has been designed for young people to download where they can register online for the payment. Called the “18app”, once a person qualifies for the grant, the money will be available for cultural expenses until the scheme expires on the last day of this year. The app allows users to create vouchers which can be used to buy tickets etc. Young people can either print out the vouchers or download them onto their tablets or smartphones to make purchases in-store. They can also be used for online shopping. The government has signalled a similar plan next year for teachers across Italy who will get €500 to use for their own professional needs.