How sad prudence is – An italian story


november 2014 / december 2017

Occupied theatres in Italy: a photographic journey

On 14th of June 2011, a self-organized group of theatre workers occupied the Teatro Valle, asking for the local art scene to be involved in the debate about its future destination. They feared that the theatre would be privatized, put to different use or shut down, given that the public organization to which it was affiliated (Ente Teatrale Italiano) had ceased to exist, as a result of the cuts in public financing for the arts decided by the Berlusconi government.

Musicians, artists and writers joined in, along with many leading figures of the Italian cultural scene. It was only the beginning of a wider protest movement spreading across Italy. The list of “occupied theatres” grew long, with the Nuovo Cinema Palazzo in Rome, the Teatro Marinoni in Venice Lido, the Ex Asilo Filangieri in Naples, the Teatro Rossi Aperto in Pisa, Macao in Milan and the Cavallerizza Reale in Turin, which was occupied by the group Assemblea Cavallerizza 14.45. The wave of protests also reached Sicily, where groups of protesters occupied the Teatro Pinelli in Messina, the Teatro Mediterraneo Occupato and the Teatro Garibaldi Aperto in Palermo, and the Teatro Coppola – Teatro dei Cittadini in Catania.

On 18th of March 2014 the European Cultural Foundation, which was set up in Geneva in 1954 and strives to “support and connect cultural change-makers”, conferred its prestigious Princess Margriet Award to the Teatro Valle Occupato, with the following motivation: “The community of Teatro Valle Occupato is very inspiring for all who are struggling against the wave of austerity measures and privatization that have been threatening the sustainability of cultural institutions crucial for artistic and community life to flourish. We see once again that collective forms of action based on shared responsibility are presenting innovative and alternative models across many spheres, not only that of culture. This is what needs to be recognized, celebrated and upheld”.


The reality of the occupied theaters in Italy is now a dense network and if unfortunately some of these have now been evicted and closed, someone still resists, carrying out the protest screaming "How sad prudence is".