Massimo Bray: an excellent start

Minister Massimo Bray begins his tenure by going to L'Aquila together with art historians and traveling to Pompeii by circumvesuviana

Massimo Bray ’s tenure at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities certainly got off to the best possible start. In the meantime, he has shown his closeness to the art historians who will gather in L’Aquila this Sunday, May 5, for an event during which art historians, insiders, as well as students and enthusiasts, will visit the city hit by the 2009 earthquake, assess the state of reconstruction, and question the fate of our artistic heritage and the meaning of art history in our country1. And Massimo Bray has shown his closeness by guaranteeing his presence for the duration of the event2: this is a very good sign, because it shows that the minister is inclined to dialogue and wants to begin his mandate without unnecessary rhetoric, but by listening, a gift the latter of which politicians have often shown they do not possess.

But Bray has also shown closeness to ordinary people, choosing for his May 1 visit to Pompeii and going there by taking the circumvesuviana railway, complete with MP3 player and music by Asaf Avidan to cheer the trip-who would have expected this from a minister?3. Moreover, Massimo Bray suffered a disruption in service that forced him to reach Pompeii by asking for a ride. Another strong signal, a person belonging to the institutions who finally decides to take a close look at the daily lives of citizens, with their setbacks and tribulations, who decides to step into reality: another skill that has been lacking in politics in recent times.

Emerging, as far as we have been able to assess so far, is the figure of a minister who brings novelty, open to dialogue, close to the grassroots. A different figure from all those who have so far accustomed us to arrogance and empty monologues. But this “novelty” of Massimo Bray cannot but be interpreted also as a warning sign, if not for our future (because the hope is that Massimo Bray’s example, in addition to being carried on by the minister himself for the duration of his tenure, will be taken as an example and imitated by as many institutional figures as possible), at least for our present, because if we are surprised (and I for one) by a minister who talks to people (something that in my opinion should be completely normal in politics), it means that so far we have been used to it pretty badly, it means that our very concept of politics has lost a lot of its value, and this value-loss operation is caused by a political class that for years has shown itself to be as far removed as possible from people and daily reality. Not to mention the dozens of politicians involved in scandals, investigations, trials.

What can we say? I repeat, we hope that Massimo Bray has inaugurated a trend: that of the refined politician, who tries to keep himself out of the spotlight, who cares about the fate of his country and who demonstrates this caring not only in words, but also by active doing that first takes the form of being close to people (whether art historians, visitors to Pompeii or passengers on the circumvesuviana) and understanding their problems. And the next step is to do what we can to solve the problems. Massimo Bray is just getting started, and he is off to a good start: let him work and we will see how his work goes.


1. See the event website, L’ Aquila May 5. Art historians and civil reconstruction.
2. Cf. In L’Aquila art historians and civil reconstruction with new Minister Bray, from, April 30, 2013.
3. Cfr. Bray goes to Pompeii but train breaks down, passenger recognizes him and tweets photo, from Repubblica Napoli, May 1, 2013.

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