Worked as director and culture armchair

The Italy of culture is experiencing very special times, or, as he liked to say a few years ago, today it is experiencing a period of strong transition.

With increasing evidence, culture in recent years has begun to gain more and more connotations of the economic sector, at least in the declarations and more generally in the public debate.

Today, there are not uncommon cases where famous and less famous exponents of our policies precisely in the culture, and more precisely in the cluster of cultural and creative industries, indicate a lever for the economic development of our country.

In any case, these statements, with a somewhat hyperbolic taste, register a strong change in the perception of the sector, which at the same time also responds to the growth of numerous economic activities, which, although certainly can not represent the most important “lever” for the national economy has, however, shown significant results in terms of employment and added value.

Extending the vision to the medium term has therefore in recent years confirmed an economic vision for the cultural sector, which gradually replaces the previously dominant paradigm in our social and political structure, which interpreted culture as a purely institutional and political dimension.

This is a not insignificant change, which requires progressive and step-by-step “adjustments” in virtually all dimensions of the sector: from the market composition to the regulatory dimensions, from study paths to employment policies.

Many of these small and large adjustments can already be understood in our scenario: the growing level of young people investing in independent formulas to be able to pursue their profession in the cultural and creative context; the consolidation of some market players, which today are experiencing an increase in turnover and number of employees; tax incentives for investment in new cultural industries; a progressive opening on the part of the administration, especially the locals, to cooperate with private subjects in order to strengthen the territory.

Alongside these changes, however, it is also possible to appreciate persistent logics that are the reflection of the previous paradigm, especially in the most apical dimensions: it is thus possible to identify, especially in central administrations, a certain skepticism towards private intervention in the culture sector, which is not limited to being a “provider of additional services”; a formulation of fiscal policies that tends to favor a static vision of art; the allocation of representative offices for more or less important institutions according to the logic of a first republic.

In this particular scenario, the latter element plays a fundamental role because it actually accurately reflects the current coexistence of two different worlds, which, although they do not present the features of the conflict, in any case determine a frictional force that slows down when it does not block the normal movement that the cultural sector could represent today.

On the one hand, we have the “business” culture: young professionals who have grown up by combining cultural skills with management knowledge and experience; entrepreneurs combining technological, financial, artistic and economic knowledge; librarians who deal with problems related to digital competence with competence and who deepen the potential of artificial intelligence for the classification and availability of knowledge; archaeologists who invest their time and skills in improving the local territory, in a civic science logic, and who also exploit the potential of in-depth 3D reconstruction; artisans who shape wood according to ancient traditions, implement a business model based on exports; etc. etc. etc.

It is a way that has grown in the paradigm of competence: it is not about extraordinary men or women, but about individuals who have grown up in a context that interprets culture according to a para-industrial logic, and certainly in a production logic.

On the other hand, there are boards made up of notables, people who have spent their careers in non-cultural sectors, and who have consolidated their position in a network, piling up board positions in the cultural world, to habit. , for social confirmation, for relationships.

Be aware: relationships, networks, social affirmation and lobbying are essential elements for the functioning of any economic sector, and even more so the cultural sector, which presents interdependencies at a structural level that require the expansion of one’s network transcends the boundaries of the cultural sector.

Therefore, it is not the assignment of tasks by “relation” that is anachronistic: it is rather a vague connection between skills and the task. In the new cultural world, the relationship is built on the basis of vertical skills: partnerships are created, networks are created, and knowledge and sometimes friendships are structured, albeit based on a position with technical and empirical competence. Conditions that are often lacking in the current composition of the board of directors, which consists of directors who are now directors by profession.

To understand that this system is now inadequate, it is sufficient simply to look at the number of tasks collected by the same persons: so many that it is practically impossible for these people to fulfill the obligations of attention, competence and management, that “productive vision of culture” logically attributes this role.

This is not the usual pattern of organizational growth, where, as you naturally do when you take on responsibilities, you increasingly rely on the skills of those at the lower levels of the hierarchy.

It is rather a rupture in which those who are called to make decisions do so according to a completely different logic than that of the structure, according to competencies that lie far from the structure: because culture is not a business in the traditional sense. of the term, and the productive vision of culture requires that those who make decisions in an organization have additional skills in terms of “relationships” and “relationships.”

For the productive view of culture, in other words, it is not enough that the new director has sat on ten other directors, centers or a thousand boards before joining his own organization: it is necessary that the director knows exactly what we are talking about. about. of the consequences of any choice, and who knows how to make decisions that take into account all the numerous factors that make culture a sector that responds to logics that cannot be completely superimposed over other production sectors.

Above all, the productive vision of culture cannot wait for the timing of the adaptation that characterizes the institutional vision: if culture is also to be an economic sector, it cannot wait for change at the top to take place through register substitution. These times may be suitable for the replacement of a non-productive sector, of a museum whose obligation is to remain open, and not of a museum which, as a mission, has citizen involvement and which measures its work on the basis of how many people normally participate in organized activities.

In other words, slow substitution responds to the times when culture was a habit, or a way of achieving a social desirability. Today, where culture is also expected to have an economic impact (possible) and a logical non-welfare occupation, this time is no longer sufficient.

What must be clear is that with every old-fashioned employment, it burns growth opportunities for industry, for our society, as well as income and profit opportunities for cultural organizations.

And it is a luxury that our country cannot afford.

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