Autonomy, decision making and control in public cultural institutions: stuck in the middle? Within the art sector, management tends often to be reduced to a question of communication and fund raising. On the contrary, it is here argued, Italian cultural institutions' mayor problems are those arising form the features and functioning of the Italian public administration per se, in terms of (non managerial) criteria for recourse allocation, (the lack of) human resource management, and the characteristics of the accounting system itself. A mystifying rhetoric of «budgetary goals» is taking place, without a focus on the negotiation between the political body (the Ministry; the Art department at the city level etc.) and the «managers» in terms of the decision on resources and goals.