The Minister of Culture and his pamphlet

Heritage and its improvement as a “factor of economic and social growth”: the most efficient and clean of renewable energy. For an inclusive country.

With the freedom that the detachment of age allows me, I can say that there is not a line in the text that I do not want to subscribe to, both where the gaze goes beyond the so-called cultural world and when it enters the benefits of the measures employed in recent years. How can we not agree that culture is “a factor for economic and social growth“, rather”the most efficient and purest of renewable energy“The instrument”to build a more inclusive and accommodating country […] crucial for the stability and quality of the democratic system itself“And why not share the call to overcome?”dogmatic contradictions that are children of an ideological vision and have little to do with the complexity of reality: conservation versus improvement, culture versus tourism, public versus private“? This creates the conditions for strengthening our cultural heritage by preserving it in the best possible way.

Franceschini’s reforms have brought to the fore questions that were once limited to a circle of experts, perhaps sometimes far from reality. His name will enter the textbooks for the shock it gave the public in the field of cultural heritage, from the reform of museums to the supervisory authorities, from a new conception of tourism policy to the partial liberalization of cultural heritage images. For this reason, for his courage, he was appreciated by many and loathed by many others.

The index leads from Pompeii to Venice via the Colosseum («Who said that places and monuments should only be considered and not lived?»). It does not neglect the theme of archives, the pillars of democracy, libraries, contemporary art, intangible heritage, theaters and films (did we know that, after decades, censorship has finally been abolished?).

But the political heart of the text lies in the clear stance in favor of overcoming “of the false public-private contrast in the management and enhancement of cultural heritage“And in a passage where Franceschini confesses:”I strongly believe in the centrality of the state, but at the same time I believe in the principle of subsidiarity“. And in fact it follows a crystalline interpretation of art. 9 of the Constitution:”The Republic does not end with the institutional bodies, with its public apparatus. It is also composed of social formations, of realities that society spontaneously expresses to deal with public interests“; and therefore “it also encourages every single citizen to take on the cultural heritage in an active and not just contemplative wayWords that I would have gladly read on the first page of the book.Book coverIn the midst of a thousand difficulties (a policy of hiring civil servants and technicians is urgent), the reforms have led to administrative simplification and some management confusion. But a reform season cannot last forever: there is also a need for effective general leadership. Those who have gratefully welcomed the innovations introduced in the early years of the Franceschini ministry today reflect on what for many seemed to be their limit: not having followed his courageous reforms adequately. The change in the political situation that Italy has experienced since 2018 helps to understand, if not justify, that the storms that the reforms raised were followed by a silence that without strong winds left too many pieces in the middle of the ford.

The reforms with the greatest effect (we read in the book) have had “the merit of having turned what has been asked for some time into realityTrue, but other long-standing requests await answers. And in fact, the book lacks a few sections. the amendment of Article 108 of the Code, which allows for the commercial use of images of public assets by releasing creative energies and providing resources to the state through taxation rather than with parasitic rents, which today only causing harm to the tax authorities.

The establishment of the Digital Library can go in that direction if the new department does not find the biggest obstacles in the ministry. The persistent closures for open access also linguistically describe a paradox in sharp contrast to the book’s inspiration. Here, a change of pace is really urgent (and possible). There is no clear address to breathe it “dynamic and changing diversity of forms of partnership and cooperation“And to them”flexible models that can accommodate the many energies present», Which Franceschini knows and wishes well.

The transfer of the management of places that are not sufficiently valued, to associations in the third sector, to mixed subjects, to private operators supervised by the public authority, should become a policy of the ministry rather than a wish, the compass that guides precise guidelines for opening and inclusion. Two things are not lacking in Franceschini: a positive vision of reality and determination. I wish him another edition of the book soon, which testifies to the results of a reform season that has regained its momentum.

“Do you not eat with culture?”
by Dario Franceschini, La Nave di Teseo, Milan 2022, 176 pp. € 18

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