Teatro Valle becomes a foundation

 Rome's occupied Teatro Valle enters new phase

Teatro Valle in Rome finally became a foundation on 16 September, putting it on the same footing as national and international cultural institutions.

The actors and artists, who first occupied the historic theatre in June 2011, celebrated the news with a ceremony on 18 September, saying Teatro Valle will be an "open theatre".

Located between Largo Argentina and Piazza Navona, the 18th-century theatre is the oldest still in operation in Rome, and was taken over by protesters 23 months ago over its proposed privatisation.

Since then it has hosted 200 artists, acquired over 5,000 members and received the support of high-profile Italian political figures such as Stefano Rodotà and international cultural figures including English theatre and film director Peter Brook and American movie director Francis Ford Coppola. Significantly, it has also accumulated funds of more than €143,000, mainly from works of art donated by various artists.

Rodotà said that “neither the city nor the culture ministry can now ignore" the theatre's new status which he described as “not the end of the struggle, but a significant step in advancing the same struggle."

In a statement the Teatro Valle bene comune said it will be "informal, sustainable and participatory”, thanking “the commitment, dedication, intelligence and passion of thousands of citizens and artists... [for making] Teatro Valle a symbol of civil and cultural rebirth."

Rome-based Irish artist Michelle Rogers, a collaborator and friend of Teatro Valle, told Wanted in Rome she was delighted with the news. “They run an incredible programme and have a very new and exciting artistic vision that Rome badly needs right now", she said.

Built in 1726, the theatre was commissioned by the Capranica family and designed by Tommaso Morelli. Later that century it underwent several renovations and in the 19th century its internal and external features were redesigned by noted Italian architects such as Valadier and Salvi.

Over the centuries it has staged numerous world premieres including Rossini's Demetrio e Polibio in 1812, and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, in 1921.

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