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ITsART: Italy shuts down 'Netflix of Italian Culture'

Culture minister pulls plug on ItsART project.

ItsART, the streaming platform dedicated to Italian art and culture, has been put into liquidation after reportedly incurring losses of €7.5 million last year.

The pet project of former culture minister Dario Franceschini, ItsART was launched in May 2021 in response to the closure of museums, cinemas and theatres due to Italy's lockdowns and covid restrictions.

The centre-left Francheschini hailed the online platform as "the Netflix of Italian culture" that would offer a "virtual stage" for art, theatre, music and opera, even after the covid pandemic.

ItsArt provided both free and paid access to Italian culture, with live and on-demand content on offer in Italy as well as abroad.

However despite an investment of some €15 million the project failed to get off the ground, bringing in just €246,000 and 141,000 subscribers, according to Italian news reports.

Critics also complained that the platform's cultural content was too similar to that already offered on the channels of state broadcaster RAI.

Investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), controlled by Italy's finance ministry, was the main shareholder in ItsArt, which it managed together with the Milan-based streaming firm Chili.

In November the CDP reportedly informed the culture ministry - now headed by Gennaro Sangiuliano of the new right-wing coalition - that ItsArt was in serious economic difficulty, asking if the government intended to refinance it.

The answer was negative and the company was wound up officially on 29 December.

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