Is an [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Elton John[/lastfm] concert a “cultural event?” That’s the question the European Union is grappling with as the organization is ordering Italy to reimburse nearly one million dollars of EU money used to put on a John show in Naples.
The Italian government used nearly one million dollars (or 720,000 euros) to pay John for a concert meant to attract attention to the Naples region of Italy. EU rules allow for the use of union money toward cultural events, but those have traditionally been thought of as long-running art exhibits or restoring historic buildings.
A “one-off rock concert” does not qualify, according to EU spokesman Ton van Lierop. “So we have asked Italy for our money back.”
John’s concert in late 2009 drew 100,000 fans and was broadcast on national television.
Italian officials believe that the concert fulfilled EU obligations and plan to appeal the decision.
Here’s a clip of the performance, with John performing “I Guess That’s Why The Call It The Blues.”
Should a government be in the business of concert promotion, even if that concert does a civic good?