Nicola Zingaretti talks about the Lazio region’s vision of culture

Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Lazio Region, talks about the dynamics that exist between the Lazio region and the Roman cultural realities in order to accelerate the development of the region and increase the quality of life of its citizens. Culture, a social sphere now closely linked to ecological change, a theme that Zingaretti addresses in relation to the choice of building a waste-to-energy plant in Rome and in relation to the new means given to art and culture. Among the topics addressed during the interview are also the attitudes that Italy took towards the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Since 2013 you have been president of the Lazio region, what were the main challenges you faced and what are the current ones?

In these nine years, we have faced events that have left deep traces. I will only mention two: the earthquake of 2016 and then the Covid tragedy, which we are still partially experiencing. The fact that seems really important to me is that despite the pain caused by these two extraordinary events, Lazio showed a unique ability to resist, reorganize and restart. I believe that this is, above all, the result of a lively, militant community. Many had not expected it. I say instead that this region of ours, the second Italian region of GDP, will be one of the engines behind Italian rebirth. And this is – if I may say so myself – also an achievement of these nine years of regional rule. When we arrived 9 years ago, Lazio was among the junk regions in the use of European funds. We have reached the goal of 100% programming expenses for 2007-2013. As for the 2014-2020 programming, 100% was committed. We will close the programs by 2022, one year in advance. We no longer have a deficit of 700 million as in 2013, but we have positive balances. We no longer have a health commissioner, but recruitment and investment, thanks to these we have withstood Covid’s fierce influence better than other regions. Now the mission is to open a new season of development and work, based on social and environmental sustainability. We have shown that we can do it.

You support the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in Rome, what other ecological actions should accompany the creation of the plant?

I supported the election of Mayor Gualtieri for a very simple reason, it is 9 years, that is, since I have been President of the region, that Rome needs a solution to close – as national and European rules say – the waste cycle in its territory .. We have struggled for years with the denial of this data. Now we turn the page. The mayor made an important choice for the city to radically solve this problem and make Rome self-sufficient. As for the facility, we have to see what it becomes, because we are at the beginning. What we can say today, however, is that there is no capital in Europe that does not have a disposal system within its perimeter. Thanks to technology, the impact of these systems can be very low. Definitely lower than sending our waste to Italy and Europe, which Rome has unfortunately been forced to for years.

As the legal representative of the Lazio region, you are part of the board of the RomaEuropa Foundation, with which you have recently carried out the planting of an intensive forest for the absorption of carbon dioxide, which will be produced by the mobility of artists. How is the relationship with Roman cultural reality progressing to achieve the goals of sustainable development in the 2030 agenda? To what extent do the Lazio region meet the requirements of these realities in the field of cultural development and environmental sustainability?

To minimize the environmental impact of the RomaEuropa Festival, we have since 2020 promoted a co-operation agreement between the Ecosystems Foundation and the Lazio region on the supply and planting of the plants and shrubs needed to offset the CO2 emissions of 400 artists in flight. participated in the festival in 2020. Thanks to the Ossigeno project, we have planted 700 native plants of Mediterranean scrub in the driveway of Santa Severa Castle. Already this year, you can appreciate the beauty of this intervention in a unique context. The project has been extended to 2021 and is under renewal for 2022, where the compensation involves planting other trees and shrubs in the Garbatella district. A similar path has been created for Videocittà. With regard to the programming of regional funds, calls for the improvement and redevelopment of Lazio’s cultural sites have in recent years rewarded several interventions aimed at energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact. Also worth mentioning is the renewed LED lighting system, funded by the region, in the Collepardo Caves, one of the regionally owned geostates in the province of Frosinone.

Earlier, he proposed the creation of a scientific observatory in Lazio on culture to develop new ideas and proposals. To date, what are the initiatives that the Lazio region supports for culture?

To make culture an engine of the Italian rebirth, it is necessary to invest in talents, in innovation, especially thinking of the youngest. We must move from a model that is limited only to the utilization of cultural resources in relation to tourism, to a model that produces – in addition to beauty and knowledge – work and development with high added value. An example of this strategy is the first Italian cultural technology district created by the Lazio region’s collaboration with MIUR and MIC, in which universities, research centers and museums participate. In unit programming, we have enormous resources for the next few years: almost 17 billion between national reform programs, new European programming and national funds. We will strive to digitize museums, archives, libraries and cultural sites, to strengthen the historical-artistic heritage, to support film and audiovisual with the relaunch of the European Center for Film and Television Production by Cinecittà.

Especially with regard to Italian contemporary art, what kind of initiatives support the region?

As part of cultural efforts, in addition to investing in tenders and competitions, the region also carries out cultural activities within the spaces it manages. For example, WeGil is an extraordinary example of a cultural center where exhibitions and events take place, we have hosted artists such as Jacques Henri Lartigue and Elliott Erwitt. Today there is an exciting exhibition at WeGil with unpublished photographs of Pasolini. The same goes for Spazio Rossellini, for the castle of Santa Severa. Based on the experiences of the Film Studio Association in the historic premises in via degli Orti d’Alibert in Trastevere, we have created “Scena”: Space, Cinema, Events and New Arts, a cultural center in the heart of the city, where events are held, screenings and exhibitions. Throughout Lazio, we promote works of street art, to express artistic energies, improve the social use of places, but also to attract tourists, as happens in many other cities in Italy and around the world. Here, too, the strategic choice in this case is to involve the world of culture and creativity in a project that improves the quality of life. That is the great strength of culture.

What do you think about the gap between the country’s sensitivity to the conflict and the government decisions taken regarding the sending of weapons to the Ukrainian government? The tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is one of the darkest sides of Italy and post-war Europe. What is happening is a mess, a nation has been invaded, a people has been attacked. I shared and I share all government elections, including support for the Ukrainian opponents. Firmness and support for Ukraine must go hand in hand with the goal of doing everything to achieve peace. We must uphold the values ​​of peace and democracy and not let them slip into a sterile dialectic that is of no use to the Ukrainian people who have been attacked by the Russian government.

Italy supports Ukraine, but what goals does it actually support, and what will be the consequences of the conflict in geopolitical terms and for Europe’s future?

We are facing difficult choices, very important for the future, not only for Europe, but for the balance of the world. In addition to the fate of millions of people, we must relate to the impact that the war has on the prospects for economic recovery in our country. Europe shows unity. This is a positive turning point in the societal dimension, and I believe that the breadth and firmness of Putin’s condemnation of the war is a useful factor in conditioning and stopping the escalation of the war. The decision to set aside 300 billion euros to energetically liberate itself from Russia also goes in this direction. This shows that Europe is changing and must continue to change with a common foreign policy and with a common security policy and with the protagonist when our continent is involved in major tragedies that affect our citizens. I think this firmness is already working positively.

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