ROME - Italy's culture industry pledged to shut down theaters, cinemas and cancel concerts throughout the country on Friday to protest planned cuts to the art budget.
Art houses and festivals announced cancellations, including Italy's prestigious "La Scala," which said it was canceling its Friday performance of Rossini's "The Barber of Seville."
Italy's Anica film industry association said the government's proposed budget would lower its contribution to a special arts fund by 40 percent — from $556 million to $359 million, putting 5,000 companies and 60,000 jobs at risk.
"The attack against show business and citizens' fundamental right to culture has, these days, reached new heights," Anica said in a statement posted on its Web site.
The reductions are part of an overall budget, which still must be approved by parliament, that includes $24 billion in spending cuts and revenue-generating measures that the government says are needed to keep Italy's deficit in check.