Read installment 1: “Petition Madness in the Art World…and a Search for Solutions: Florens 2012”
Read installment 3: “Florens 2012, 3: The Recommendations of Florens 2010 – a Personal Commentary”
Much of the report on Florens 2010, the strategic study, deals with analyses of the kind of data we associate with audience surveys. The data is statistical, and in digesting them, the authors work with quantified phenomena that can be consistently compared. The methods, which are clearly described, reflect standard methods and different studies are brought in for comparison.
As sound as all this is, I’m always slightly mistrustful of statistical samples, and find it helpful to have specific examples from the field as well. One of the museums I have worked for once participated in a Getty program that used statistics and focus groups to inform the participants from the curatorial, education, and design departments about the needs and desires of their visitors. The results of the focus groups were fascinating and presented a rather unexpected, complex picture of the people who visit museums in different American cities.
Still, the statistics in the Florens 2010 paper were extremely useful in clarifying the overall picture and in establishing comparisons. I was surprised that the U.S. was so effective, at least comparatively, in making the most of their artistic assets.1 The most amazing tidbit, on the other hand, was the preponderance of Britons who associated the concept of culture with food and drink!
I’ll pass over the details of the analysis, since the strategic study is readily available on the Fondazione Florens site, for those with a stomach for the worst kind of bureaucratic verbiage, except for a few exciting moments, when the analysts seem to be viewing Earth and Italy in particular, from another planet.
Rather, I’ll jump straight to the conclusions of the study, which I’ll present through Florens’ list of key areas for Action, followed by their list of proposals related to it, as they are phrased in the English version of the strategic study. In future postings over the next week, I’ll comment briefly on certain points in them.
Key-Areas for Action for the Cultural “Renaissance” of Italy and Tuscany
“Florens 2010” has identified the following 13 areas for action:
1. Renewed attention to investments in the cultural sector as a strategic industrial policy tool
2. Simplifying the rules for the free circulation and sale of works of art
3. Promotion of artistic and productive “Made in Italy” excellence on foreign markets
4. Technological developments in the cultural sector
5. Florence as the reference center for digitalization
6. Creation of a database of best practices for museum management
7. Assessment of customer satisfaction concerning the supply of cultural services
8. Initiatives to support patronage in the artistic and cultural sector
9. Support to public-private partnership in the cultural sector
10. Improvement in statistical classification for monitoring craft activities
11. Improved valorization of arts and crafts
12. Greater accessibility to culture for young people
13. Florence’s specialization in the management of cultural heritage
Recommendations and Policy Indications for the Relaunching of the Cultural and Creative Sector in Italy
Proposal no. 1
It is necessary to give priority, both on a national and regional basis, to investments in the cultural and creative system, to ensure Italy is equipped with the necessary tools (development of technical expertise and knowledge, managerial skills, infrastructures, technology, etc.) in order to promote the unexpressed potential in this sector: this is a fundamental strategic lever for future initiatives in industrial policy aimed at reconfiguring the industrial system of the country.
Proposal no. 2
Provide a “passport” for works of art entering and leaving the country, as other European countries do, like France and the UK: a certificate of this kind would not be subject to time limits of any kind and would enable collectors and art merchants to export works without having to repeat bureaucratic procedures or risk, after 5 years, if the certificate is not renewed, having their assets “nationalized”.
Proposal no. 3
– Promote so-called “traveling exhibitions” to a greater extent, for example lending even single works of art abroad (including lesser known ones currently stored in the warehouses of museums where people cannot enjoy them), and creating specific events for them outside of Italy: this would enable us to increase “cultural understanding” and give people who do not have the possibility to visit our country the opportunity to experience Italian culture; moreover, “traveling exhibitions” could be arranged on a “reciprocal” basis with other countries, whenever possible.
– Provide modes of economic compensation to those who grant their works of art on loan for exhibitions abroad.
– Combine art exhibitions outside of Italy with the presentation of key industrial sectors (there are, for example, strong synergisms with the Fashion and Food sectors), as well as the technologies for cultural assets produced in our country (road shows, business-to-business meetings, etc.), with the aim to promoting possible trade collaboration: itinerant exhibitions should be seen as an opportunity to present the image of Italian creativity and history abroad.
Proposal no. 4
– To promote the introduction of ICT technologies in Italian museums and provide incentives for companies that produce multimedia applications for the cultural sector and museum systems: This would make the production of content and initiatives of advertising and marketing of museums, archeological areas, etc., more effective and attractive.
– To invest in training the personnel active in the Italian cultural sector to use the new technologies for the cultural and environmental assets by offering lifelong learning initiatives.
Proposal no. 5
Florence could propose to become the world capital of digitalization (multimedia production, ICT, telecommunications, etc.). The city could also capitalize on the experience deriving from the activities of the newly created Technological District of Cultural Resources (focused on the areas of restoration and conservation, ICT and technologies for the cultural heritage and management of the services), one of the initiatives through which Florence intends to requalify the urban and entrepreneurial environment to attract creative people.
Proposal no. 6
Produce a sort of “clearing house” of the best practices in the field of cultural activities, for example a database that the experts can consult when they have a problem, to find similar experiences, links, contacts, etc.
Proposal no. 7
To create, for Italian museums, a simple and user-friendly standard to assess visitor satisfaction: this would provide comparable statistics on a national level and the best practice database could be updated automatically.
Proposal no. 8
– To plan an ad hoc law to boost sponsorship of restoration works by private individuals, making it possible to deduct the entire value of the restored work from taxes. In countries such as the USA, exemption from taxation is used as a lever to promote investment in cultural heritage (also with testamentary bequests to museums and foundations).
– To earmark incentives for the valorization of works of art and private collections
– In the field of real estate, to introduce tax facilitations for the restoration of buildings designated to house museums, libraries, cultural centers, etc., making it possible to salvage disused areas/historical buildings and enrich cultural heritage.
Proposal no. 9
– To promote public-private partnership initiatives, by encouraging the donation of works of art or private collections in view of fiscal benefits.
– To evaluate the possible transition of the great Italian museums into public-private foundations, as has already occurred for the Museo delle Antichità Egizie (Egytian Museum) of Turin, the Fondazione per la Valorizzazione Archeologica del sito di Aquileia (Foundation for Archeological Valorization of the Aquileia Site) and the Museo Maxxi in Rome.
– To strengthen the role of private foundations and project financing in the cultural field.
Proposal no. 10
To Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) should evaluate a distinction between the so-called “high-level craftsmanship” and the artisanal sectors in the a strict sense, thus promoting an improvement of sector discipline in Italy.
Proposal no. 11
To institute recognition for “endangered” arts and crafts (as has been done, for example, in Japan for “sword crafts”, Korea, France, etc.) in order to valorize arts and crafts professionals and excellence which are in danger of disappearing.
Proposal no. 12
– To render museums, art galleries, libraries, etc. more attractive to children in order to activate a powerful multiplier of visitors (as proven by the experience provided by Children’s Museums).
– To strengthen education in Italian primary schools on topics such as drawing, art, music, environment, etc. giving more time and attention to creativity and the “ability to make” while investing on the quality of teachers: investing more on the importance of the culture of creativity constitutes also a valid pre-requisite for diffusing the culture of entrepreneurship and doing.
Proposal no. 13
To institute in Florence a School for Training on Cultural Heritage Management in order to make the city a center of reference in this kind of specialization.
Read installment 3: “Florens 2012, 3: The Recommendations of Florens 2010 – a Personal Commentary”
- The analysis of the results of the Florens Index, calculated on an international base (see Chapter 4), revealed Italy’s weakness with regard to the capacity to use the cultural and environmental heritage at its disposal to full advantage: for example, in the ranking relative to the “Cultural and Environmental Capital” Area, Italy is preceded by the United States (in first position also for its total score in the Florens Index), the United Kingdom and France. ↩