Rome: Teatro Valle commons foundation is in danger!

Teatro Valle, a squatted theatre in Rome, is currently under threat of eviction.


May 2010 – ETI, the State company depending on the Ministry of Culture in charge of running 4 national theatres (La Pergola in Firenze, Duse in Bologna, Valle and Quirino in Rome), is shut down due to structural budget cuts to culture. Rumours of privatization alarm the cultural italian scene.

June 13th, 2011 – The referendum against the privatization public services related to water, promoted by public committees under the guidance of, between others, Prof. Ugo Mattei (professor of civil law at the University of Turin and California), is won.

June 14th, 2011 – Teatro Valle is occupied by entertainment workers (actors, authors, directors, dancers) for a three-day protest against budget cuts to culture.

June 15th, 2011 – While the theatre is being “temporarily” occupied, the Mayor of Rome and the Ministry of Culture (both headed by right-winged political parties figures) sign an agreement to transfer the theatre’s ownership to the City of Rome, under terms which, later on, have never been complied with.

June 2011 on – The temporary occupation has a striking success, the echo is huge, the theatre is filled with people all day and all night long, important artists offer free shows, culture personalities give public endorsements in support of the protest which, from being temporary, becomes permanent. Teatro Valle Occupato wins the Ubu (the italian Academy award for theatre) Special Award for 2011. More prizes will be awarded all across 2011 and 2012, amongst which the EuroMed (

August 2011 on – Teatro Valle is an established reality in town, both as an artistic landmark with a vocation for the contemporary, and as a political laboratory where the theory of the commons is elaborated through the practice of collective self-government.

While functioning as a hosting theatre, writing, acting and stage crafts workshops complete the artistic programming of the activities. Crisi by Fausto Paravidino (director and author of, amongst others, Exit and Texas) and Cavie by Cristian Ceresoli (author of the acclaimed La Merda, winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012), later followed by the new workshop Rabbia, become sources for new dramaturgy research. NaveScuola trains new stage technicians, who can learn stage crafts practicing on the spot in one of the few stages still working with manual machinery.

January 2012 – The occupants, with the help of Prof. Ugo Mattei, launch a committee to raise funds in order to create a foundation to protect Teatro Valle and state its nature of Common, under the slogan “Like water, like air, let’s take culture back”. The idea is that some things are not commodities but belong to the community, be it natural resources, human creations, material and immaterial things, ideas and places.

Meanwhile the occupants, helped by Ugo Mattei, write the future foundation’s statutes (Teatro Valle Commons Foundation) and publish the discussed drafts on the website, to share further feedbacks from the associated citizens.

April 2013 on – The juridical work around the Commons is enhanced by the creation, again promoted by Ugo Mattei, of the Constituent of the Commons. This group of jurists and scholars intend to retrieve the results of the Commission held by the Ministry of Justice in 2007. Chaired by prof. Stefano Rodotà, that study had been commissioned by the Minister of Justice to investigate the commons as a third party between private and public property, with the final objective to re-write a part of the civil code. After having produced a detailed report and a law proposal, the commission had been dismissed and its work got lost in the chambers of the Parliament.

The Constituent of the Commons reprises that work integrating it with the practices experienced in the self-governed and occupied spaces across Italy: its meetings are held any other time in self-governed spaces where the jurists discuss with people and gather materials, and at Teatro Valle where the drafting sessions take place. The aim is to revive the law proposal regulating the commons in the italian legal system.

August 2013 on –The work on Il Macello di Giobbe (Job’s Slaughter), a brand new play written by Fausto Paravidino during the occupation, begins as a series of workshops on acting, stage setting, soundtrack writing; it will be the first production of Teatro Valle Occupato.

September 16th, 2013 – The occupants sign the final draft of the Statutes in front of the notary public and establish the Teatro Valle Commons Foundation; to acquire the legal personality the new born foundation applies to the Prefecture of Rome.

February 11th, 2014 – The Prefect of Rome denies the legal personality to the Foundation: the denial doesn’t concern the contents of the statutes or the self-government model, but the simple fact that the address of the Foundation is an occupied space and the Foundation has no title on it.

The day before the arrival of the letter of denial, during a press conference, the Prefect had disclosed that the situation of Teatro Valle could not be solved with a public order intervention, but “needed a political solution”.

After three years it is clear that the problem actually lies in the agreement (Protocol) of June 15th, 2011: both the Mayor of Rome and the Ministry of Culture claim the protocol is spoiled and deny the ownership of the theatre. None of them want to open a negotiation with the occupants for fear of being held liable for a solution.

February 18th, 2014 – On his first day as non elected new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declares that Teatro Valle Occupato is not a model for culture.

March 18th, 2014 – Teatro Valle Occupato is awarded the ECF Princess Margriet Award 2014 with this motivation:

Teatro Valle Occupato saved Italy’s oldest theatre from an uncertain future by occupying it. The combined intellectual and creative energy of the performers, directors, technicians and citizens has transformed the space into one of Europe’s most ground-breaking cultural venues. The group focuses on keeping this theatre in the heart of Rome alive and open to all. It does so by running this theater by using non-hierarchical decision-making to ensure greater democratic participation. Its example, which is inspiring similar (cultural) initiatives across Europe, demonstrates that the production and sharing of culture is a right and can be a resource accessible to all. The jury has chosen to award the European Cultural Foundation Princess Margriet Award to Teatro Valle Occupato in recognition of its vital and far-reaching efforts in making culture a space for all, where culture becomes a (democratic) process that produces new values and forms of social life.

The award is handed by Princess Margriet to the occupants in a formal ceremony in Bruxelles at the presence of the European Culture Commissioner. Ugo Mattei is giving the Laureate speech. No representative figures of the City of Rome or the Italian Ministry of Culture are present.

March – April 2014 – The head of the Culture Department of Rome Mrs. Flavia Barca begins a confrontation panel regarding Teatro Valle Occupato with a group of experts of culture, economy, theatre; for the last meeting of the panel Mrs. Barca invites the occupants at the Department; at the end of panel the group of experts prepare a report for Mrs. Barca. The report is not disclosed, but rumours are the evaluation of the occupation experience is positive.

May 26th, 2014 – Mrs. Barca resigns for reasons not directly related to Teatro Valle: the situation of culture in Rome is fatal. The Mayor is not choosing a new head of the Department. Festivals have no budget, another historical roman theatre goes bankrupt. Funding culture in Rome means to sell assets and exploit monuments and big events: it is Matteo Renzi’s model, where culture is a commodity.

June 3rd, 2014 –Mayor of Rome Dr. Ignazio Marino demands a “final solution” for Teatro Valle during the TV program “Otto e mezzo”.

June 21st, 2014 – Italian / french bilingual reading of extracts of Job’s slaughter at La Colline – Théâtre National de Paris. The première of the whole play is scheduled at Teatro Valle Occupato on September 23rd, 2014

July 3rd, 2014 – Teatro Valle Occupato symbolically occupies the vacant Culture Department of Rome, demanding a meeting with the Mayor, who doesn’t show up.

To break the tension the jurists of the Constituent of the Commons offer the Mayor help for a panel.

July 4th, 2014 –The Mayor denies any dialogue and asks the occupants to be responsible and make the structure available as soon as possible.

The occupants react expressing concern but refusing not to be acknowledged and leave the premises spontaneously.

July 9th, 2014 – Il Fatto quotidiano, independent newspaper, publishes the Department of Culture report on Teatro Valle: it is a 94 pages detailed document which, while expressing the need to end the illegal occupation, highlights the groundbreaking achievements of this experience and suggests three possible solutions which contemplate meetings with the occupants.

July 15th, 2014 – An international call to protect Teatro Valle Foundation from eviction is launched. Amongst the others, David Harvey, Slavoj Zizek, Étienne Balibar, Michael Hardt, Costas Douzinas, Fabrizio Tamburini, Stefano Rodotà, Salvatore Settis, Christian Laval and Pierre Dardot sign the call.

On the same day the new head of the Culture Department of Rome Mrs. Giovanna Marinelli is appointed and declares that she wants to bring back legality at Teatro Valle. Nevertheless she expresses the will to begin meetings.

We now need all those who think the commons must be self governed to declare they stand by Valle #iostocolvalle