ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: ITALY – Minister Dario Franceschini, ” Crowdfunding – Saving Italy’s cultural heritage” | Sorry, Min. Franceschini, We can’t bottle feed Italy forever! THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (19|03|2015).
“… We could just transfer the money straight into the bank accounts of the [MIBACT] government officials, Mafia and Vatican and then we wouldn’t have to kid ourselves that it’s actually being spent on Italy’s cultural heritage. We can’t bottle feed them forever!”
– Comment reader of: THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (19|03|2015).
ITALY – Saving Italy’s cultural heritage by modern means. In lieu of state cash, culture minister Dario Franceschini is turning to crowdfunding and tax breaks to save Italy’s treasures – and beat heritage thieves, THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (19|03|2015).
The walk to Dario Franceschini’s office is in itself testament to Italy’s vast heritage. Past countless paintings lining the corridors of the culture ministry, he sits dwarfed by high walls adorned with books.
In any other capital, such a scene might seem as if it were put on for guests, but in Rome it feels more as if Italy has simply run out of space. The adjacent meeting room is yet another library, while the ministry’s Sala della Crociera hosts centuries of volumes on archaeology and art.
Italy boasts more Unesco world heritage sites than any other country; a fact that brings huge national pride, but also a burden. Years of short-lived governments, corruption scandals and bureaucratic hold-ups have all contributed to the neglect affecting its famous museums and historic sites.
In recent years, walls have collapsed at Pompeii, artefacts have been smuggled out of the country, and many of Rome’s museums remain outdated compared with those of other capitals.
Now 56-year-old Franceschini, the culture minister and former secretary of Italy’s Democratic party(the party of the prime minister, Matteo Renzi) has been given the task of revolutionising the way that cultural heritage is managed.
With the country still struggling to recover from the financial crisis, he must do so without the generous budget that would usually come with such a shakeup. Franceschini, however, appears unfazed by the enormity of the undertaking.
In lieu of state funds Italy has become increasingly innovative in the way it raises cash for culture. Some of Rome’s most popular tourist sites, including the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, have already benefited from multi-million euro donations for restoration work.
The government has caught on to the potential of philanthropy, last year creating the Art Bonus tax break for patrons of Italian culture. “It’s the first time that Italy has such a strong tax initiative,” said Franceschini, explaining that the scheme was designed for donors wanting to give anything from €10 to €10m.
While he says “the doors are open” to philanthropists on any scale, he states the cash cannot be considered sponsorship and that promotional branding is out of the question; wealthy business owners will not see their logos appearing draped across Italy’s historical sites or museums. But Franceschini is pleased to see donors openly talk about their contributions.
“The important thing is to build a system of support [via donations and crowdfunding],” he said. “In respect to other countries, we have a lot of catching up to do.”
Recently returned from a trip to New York, where he met directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of the Guggenheim, Franceschini cites the US as a positive example of private funding.
But he will not be drawn on a direct comparison between the countries’ top museums, arguing that Italy is unique in that its art collections are housed throughout the country rather than in a small number of leading galleries.
Despite this he has picked 20 Italian museums, including Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, to be transformed through a hiring of new directors.
Under their leadership visiting a museum in Italy will no longer be just about seeing some of the world’s most celebrated artworks, but about the broader experience, Franceschini says.
Audio guides, bookshops, cafes and improving the overall welcome at museums, are all part of the overhaul. The new directors are but a “piece of the reform”, Franceschini says, to harness the “great possibilities for growth”.
So far 1,222 people have applied for the top jobs, including 80 foreigners; they are due to go before an international committee that includes Nicholas Penny, the outgoing director of the National Gallery, in London.
The changes have already run into Italy’s notorious red tape, with the government having to enact legislation to give the chosen museums autonomy over management and finances.
But, while Franceschini awaits the results of his modernisation efforts in Italian museums, he is keen to mark what he sees as other successes. Just over two years after Unesco documented a series of shortcomings at Pompeii, including a lack of staff and vandalism, inspectors this month congratulated Italy for its efforts to save the archaeological sites.
“They recognised that we have made enormous progress,” said Franceschini, adding that no date would be set for the completion of restoration work.
“The world needs to understand. It’s not that €105m of EU funds gets spent and the work at Pompeii finishes … it will continue forever.”
Private funds have also made their way to the site, including a donation from the industrial group Finmeccanica for a system which monitors regions at risk of landslides.
The Great Pompeii project has since December 2013 been overseen by Giovanni Nistri, a former police general who once led the force responsible for retrieving stolen art works. The force continues its work in his absence, in January announcing the seizure of more than 5,000 looted antiquities from warehouses in Switzerland.
Italy’s cultural police report to Franceschini, who describes the force as “a point of reference of excellence in the world”. Yet challenges remain, with unexcavated archaeological sites and churches at particular risk from heritage thieves.
The minister says it is probable that in some parts of Italy organised crime groups take part in the illegal trade. “From my point of view, the problem is identical,” he said. “If a piece of heritage is robbed, for the state and for humanity it’s always a loss.”
While cooperation with other countries has brought results, Franceschini says more needs to be done at a global level. “It certainly needs the international community to decide upon rules in a very strong agreement. A lot of things can no longer be confronted within single states.”
The appeal reflects Franceschini’s broader attitude towards cultural assets. He believes that Italy should not be left alone to deal with its remarkable wealth of heritage.
Financial necessity has already prompted Rome to seek support from elsewhere, and the minister will be turning to international cooperation to ensure Italy’s cultural longevity.
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— THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (19|03|2015).
FOTO | FONTE | SOURCE:
— ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e ARCHITECTURA: La sede – dal castello d’Accademia Nazionale di Danza cenni storici sull’edificio, l’Accademia Nazionale di Danza, Roma (2014) & Roma, Danze di protesta in piazza degli studenti dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Danza (29/01/2013). Eidon Agenzia Fotografica (2013).