The author makes preliminary observations that are essential to addressing the principal theme of this issue. He starts from the inexorable decline of the impresario's role between the 17th and 20th centuries, which reflected the evolving demands made by the public as well as transformations in theatrical productions, principally in consequence of Wagner's innovations. The author next describes the transition of theatres from private to public management during the 1920's, and then the process of legislation affecting the performing arts from the post-war years up through today. This ranges from Law no. 800 of 1967, which represents the first example of planning and allocation of State funding, to the adoption of circulars and, ultimately, establishment of the Unified Performing Arts Fund in 1985.