Thursday. 14/3/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Carry the can

The arts in Italy have a public-funding problem – that’s nothing new. But the right-wing-cum-populist government’s decision to drastically cut funding to Rome’s contemporary-art institutions Maxxi and the Galleria Nazionale in its 2019 budget was a signalling of its priorities – and not the right ones.

Private collectors around Italy have decided to step up and show how important the work of these institutions has been in propping up the country’s art scene. Led by Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, 12 private venues across the country (including her eponymous foundation near Turin) will stage an exhibition called Grand Tour Contemporaneo. Opening on 15 April, the show is a commendable effort; albeit a sad reminder of how the public sector can get away with backing out of its responsibilities.

It all becomes trickier once you look at the drama unfolding at Milan’s opera house La Scala. The theatre is discussing a five-year partnership with the Saudi cultural ministry that would pour €15m into La Scala’s coffers. The move has drawn criticism from political figures who shrink from the notion of such an institution working with a disreputable regime. But whether you support or deride it, one-off cash injections like these are no substitute for consistent government funding to nurture arts in the country.

Image: Getty Images

Affairs / Venezuela

Dark days

In the annals of political oddities, the latest from the faltering Venezuelan regime is among the strangest. The nation’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó has been accused of orchestrating an “electromagnetic coup” by embattled leader Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó has remained relatively unscathed until now (bar an incident in January when he was bundled into the back of a van and briefly detained) and has continued to address crowds – but the net is tightening. Recent electricity blackouts have spurred a clampdown, with the prosecutor-general announcing an investigation against Guaidó for so-called sabotage of the electricity grid (something that has also seen radio journalist Luis Carlos Díaz detained). When all else fails, Maduro seems to be leaning on the tried and tested formula of a trumped-up charge.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / UK

Backlash from the benches

The UK parliament has seized control of the Brexit process at its most crucial stage. Last night the House of Commons voted to block a departure from the EU without a deal and today MPs will have their say on whether membership of the bloc should be extended beyond the end of the month. Lance Price, Tony Blair’s director of communications when he was prime minister, told The Monocle Minute: “We are in uncharted territory. Theresa May doesn’t have the support of the House of Commons and could be forced to call another public vote on Britain’s membership of the EU.” Has the UK’s sovereign parliament delivered a hammer blow to Brexit?

Aviation / Germany

On the radar

German aviation giant Lufthansa Group has announced a fleet upgrade: a politically balanced order for 20 Boeing 787-9s and 20 Airbus A350-900s. The new aircraft have yet to be assigned homes but are likely to end up at the carrier’s Zürich, Frankfurt and Vienna bases when they are delivered between 2022 and 2027. With Austrian Airlines’ fleet in need of new long-haul aircraft, and a series of A340s due for retirement at both Lufthansa and Swiss, the deal further strengthens the group’s grip on central Europe. Lufthansa also announced that it would retire seven older models and reduce the size of its Airbus A380 fleet from 14 to eight, citing “economic reasons”. This follows a similar move by Air France to cut back on its A380s; the aircraft are huge consumers of kerosene and have failed to appeal to passengers in quite the same way as Boeing’s 747.

Business / Japan

Jumble fever

Part fashion showcase, part lifestyle fair, Jumble Tokyo began as a small gathering of Japanese brands in 2004. It has since mushroomed into a global affair showcasing wares from some 200 brands; there is also an offshoot show in Paris. This season’s theme is sustainability: there will be a lively eco-friendly market offering everything from MSG-free soup stock to bed linen made in Japan. The main hall will host an eclectic mix of brands – including Japanese labels Descente DDD, Tacs and Glen Clyde – and international outfits such as French rainwear label Guy Cotten. Keeping them company are camping accessories, including LED lanterns that double up as bluetooth speakers by Tokyo brand Mori Mori. There’s a convivial atmosphere that sets Jumble apart from other trade fairs; it will be running at Bellesalle Shibuya First until Friday afternoon.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

What is a recession?

With Turkey’s economy officially in recession, Andrew Mueller asks what the phrase actually means, which other countries are experiencing one and whether the global economy should be worried.

Monocle Films / UK

Hackney Revival

Monocle's editor in chief, Tyler Brûlé, ventured to Wilton Way – a small thoroughfare in east London's Hackney, to get a read on the ingredients that underpin a community.

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