BIRTHDAY FUN

To stop them becoming terrorists, Italy is giving teens €500 to spend on high culture

The Italian government has a nice present for the teens in the country celebrating their 18th birthday this year—€500 ($566) to spend at theatres, concerts, and museums.

The scheme starts on Sept. 15 and will benefit around 575,000 teenagers. It was first announced last year in response to the deadly Paris terrorist attacks. The government hopes this so-called “cultural bonus” will prevent young people from becoming radicalized. The scheme will cost €290 million, which the government insist is money well-spent.

“What happened in Paris signaled a step-up in the cultural battle that we are living,” Italian prime minister Mr Renzi said at a speech (paywall) in Rome last year. “They imagine terror, we answer with culture. They destroy statues, we love art. They destroy books, we are the country of libraries.”

Italian teens can access the funds through an app called “18app,” where they can print vouchers from the culture ministry. “The initiative sends a clear message to youngsters, reminding them that they belong to a community which welcomes them once they come of age,” Tommaso Nannicini, the parliamentary under-secretary overseeing the initiative, told the Italian press. “It also reminds them how important cultural consumption is, both for enriching yourself as a person and strengthening the fabric of our society.”

The government’s latest measure to tackle terrorism will likely be unpopular with Italian businesses (paywall), who are more concerned about the government implementing a corporate tax cut.

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