Italian Art Director Burns His Museum's Collection to Protest Budget Cuts

Usually burning art at a protest is a call for censorship, but Antonio Manfredi has a far nobler cause — the director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum is burning pieces of his museum's collection to protest Italy's drastic budget cuts to the arts.

Like the rest of Europe, Italy is struggling to contend with a tremendous national debt, but cuts to the arts have been especially severe. And while current austerity measures are some of the strictest yet, this is nothing new for the country, which spends little on the arts. Arts spending is now only three-tenths of one percent of the GDP, which is a tenth of what France, England, and Germany spend.

Manfredi began by burning his own pieces but has since moved on to burning other artists'. (Don't worry, he gets their permission first.) He says he plans to burn two or three pieces a week from the museum's 1,000-piece collection.

When I burn one artwork I feel very, very bad. Because each one piece in this museum is one part of my life, is one part of the life of the artist. But when the revolution is possible only with the burning action, we destroy some art to save all art.

So far, the Italian government has not responded.

But other artists are joining the cause. NPR links to this video of a similar protest at the AirSpace Gallery Studios in the U.K. "We are standing in solidarity with Antonio Manfredi in protest against cuts to the arts," one participant says.

[Image via AP]