The sale can only go through once the building is empty—which it currently isn’t.
The City Council Of Milan has agreed to sell the complex of buildings that houses beloved arts and music hub Macao.
The deal, reportedly worth €22 million, will see the council transfer ownership of the entire Viale Molise complex, which spans seven buildings, to a real estate fund run by the international banking group BNP Paribas. News of the sale came as a shock to the team behind Macao, given how closely they’ve been working with the council to secure the venue’s legal legitimacy and elevate its cultural standing.
“What we cannot process is the fact that this administration (one of the few remaining ‘left wing’ governments in Italy) decided to disqualify a year-long political conversation concerning the use of public resources for the common good and for the self-determination of individuals,” reads a statement from Macao.
Crucially, however, the sale of the complex can only go through if the properties are empty, and Macao currently occupies one of the buildings. Though the assessor working on the deal, Roberto Tasca, has come out against using force to vacate the premises, there are plans to introduce new legislation that would facilitate that approach. The proposed law states, among other things, that police can enter an occupied building without a warrant if there are ten or more people inside. They can then arrest anyone involved and impose fines of up to €2064. The penalty of imprisonment is four years. Another clause states that the authorities may legally tap the phones of anyone involved. This section of the proposed law is named after Matteo Salvini, the far-right politician who’s currently Italy’s deputy prime minister.
In response to news of the sale, Macao is organising a peaceful protest on Friday, October 5th at Piazza della Scala, one of the main squares in Milan.
This isn’t the first time Macao has faced the threat of closure. Early in 2017, the council seized control of the complex from its former owner, Sogemi, after Macao’s organisers learned that Sogemi was planning to sell it.
Since opening in 2012, Macao has grown into one of Europe’s most vital spaces for experimental music and art. Among other things, it’s home to the annual music festival Saturnalia.