Message from the President

The Italian Heritage is an asset for the world civilization. Geography and history offered the Italian peninsula the possibility of inheriting one of the most amazing collection of archeological and historical arts pieces, architectures and landscapes.
Each national and territorial heritage deserves the right of being considered as a relevant part of the world identity and we don’t support the idea that Italy hold the larger part of the arts world heritage. But the historical heritage of the Italian peninsula presents some uniqueness that needs to be considered:

> Differently enough to what may be seen in other territories and civilization, Italian heritage is not concentrated on single historical “peaks” or periods. But it is historically relevant – as to say representative and inclusive of the wider Mediterranean and European civilization - since the early pre-historical societies to modernity.
> Its evolution wasn’t characterized by radical nullifications: his different historical layers overlapped and sometimes melted, still today offer the possibility of gathering and qualifying their specific contributions in arts, architectures, technologies, institutions.
> These layers are not concentrated into single specific spaces, for example the main cities, but are often diffused all along the Italian territories, from the northern mountains to the southern volcanic seashores. The diffusion of antiquities, monuments, relics, artistic and architectural masterpieces belonging to different eves, is one of the crucial and also problematic qualities of Italian heritage that led many scholars to talk about the possibility of considering the whole country as a diffused, “open air”, living, museum.

Traditionally this immense, relevant, diffused heritage (only to talk about its “built” side) has been managed through the combined actions of different subjects:

> the national state, with the system of Soprintendenze, national museums and archeological sites;
> the local authorities and the communities, through the network of local museums, and the local urban planning;
> the catholic church, and other non state community organizations (Fabbricerie), that take care of the immense religious, architectonical and artistic heritage belonging to faith and religious activities in the country;
> private citizens and families that, since the renaissance, developed arts collections of world relevance, and cared – with sometimes problematic results – landscapes, mansions, castles, urban buildings, historical gardens.

The action of these actors has been rarely consistent and coordinated: private citizens often operated independently, and sometime against, the public policies. On the opposite, Public Agencies conceived the mission of heritage protection and conservation independently from any form of collective evaluation and appreciation.
The absence of a well established public-private heritage management system become a major problem in the last twenty five years, when the public budget reduction affected the capabilities of the Soprintendenze and, generally speaking, of the public agencies.
Paradoxically enough, in spite the relevance of the heritage - and partially also because of its immensity – the Italian heritage management system wasn’t able to produce alternative and more integrated solutions, and is actually characterized by a combination of promising excellences and worrying decadences.
The persisting lack - and sometime the waste - of public financial resources, the dramatic evolution of globalized tourism and cultural consumptions that affected the quantity and the quality of visitors, their concentration on few “mediatized” spot, the economic pressure produced by the cities reassessment in times of de industrialization, the growing need for education of a “computer dependent” generation, represents a set of challenges that the Italian cultural management system is definitely not ready to answer.
What is happening, in the best case, is a concentration of public and private attentions on some, few, huge heritage “malls”, like big national museums, archeological sites and famous art cities (Venice, Florence, Rome, the Uffizi, Pompei and few other places), with controversial results. Most of the rest, the diffused heritage and the smaller, private and even ecclesiastic organizations, tends to be neglected and marginalized.

There is a need for reorganize the collective action toward the arts heritage. Not only conceived as a single nation problem, but as the possibility of creating and experimenting new form of international cooperation.
The main axes of intervention are:

> The urgencies: concentrate national and international resources to urgent conservation issues (monuments, sites and arts pieces under threat of disappear.
> The structures: upgrade the capabilities of heritage organization and moreover of heritage management systems, in terms of knowledge integration, training, networking, technological exchanges and IT solutions, organizational and governance solutions, strategies and operative tools.
> The meanings: enhance the heritage knowledge and its collective meaning, not only through dissemination and touristical, “iconic”, fruition, but also through participative practices, communities involvement, social integration practices, media participation.
> The connecting agencies: create and activate intelligent connections through operators, experiences, resources, at international level, in order to shortcut solutions, exchange opportunities and knowledge, emphasize the reputation of the best practices.

Italian Renaissance Fund is willing to contribute to contribute to this task operating as a connecting agency establishing services, incentives and best practices at international level.

© 2014 ITALIAN RENAISSANCE FUND