Restorers' protest: they left us alone. Shameful that they disregard the Constitution

Protest by restorers, the only professionals still waiting to be hired after MiBACT's 2016 competition. 'We have been left alone,' they shout.

Theodyssey of restorers, which we at Windows on Art had also denounced in an article published last April 6, continues. Following the great competition that the Ministry of Cultural Heritage announced in 2016, all the winners have been hired, and there has recently been a sliding of the lists of successful candidates: this has happened for all profiles, except for restorers, who are still waiting, since November 2017, for the publication of the ranking list. These are 171 graduates and professionals who have been left hanging, and who are waiting for answers from the state. In the editorial office we received an open letter from Alessia Zaccaria, a restorer who openly denounces the unfortunate situation that restorers are experiencing. We hope, therefore, that those who have competence in the matter can give these professionals, who are indispensable to Italy’s heritage, and who are trained through a high-level path fraught with sacrifice, the answers they deserve, because the future of our cultural heritage also depends on it. Below is the text of the letter.

On August 30, 2018, the roof of the church of San Giuseppe dei falegnami in Rome collapsed. A restoration completed roughly 4 years ago, a time frame too short for a collapse of this magnitude to be justified, not to mention that in the design of restorations - by law - a maintenance plan must also be indicated so that such disasters should never occur. What has happened is mainly due to the lack in Mibac staff of specialized technicians who can check the quality of the materials used for restoration and the goodness of the plans submitted in the tender phase.

The Minister appeared shaken and indignant about what happened, and initiated meetings with representatives of superintendencies (day September 5) and union representatives (day September 6) meetings through which he outlined his program and point of view devoted to “pragmatism” and “transparency.”

The minister rightly pointed out the shortage of qualified personnel in the workforce, and prophesied the publication of numerous calls for competitions, the first starting precisely next year.

Reading the trade unions’ account, our category cannot help but be indignant since there is no mention of the figure of the restorer, either as a professional list or as civil servants. But let us proceed in order.

It has been almost 10 years since our category was promised, in implementation of Article 29 of Legislative Decree 42/2004 (better known as the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code) a professional list in order to establish who can or cannot practice the profession, and put an end to the existence of improvised restorers who irreversibly ruin our artistic heritage. After numerous postponements (from 6 months to 6 months and from year to year) it finally came to an end in May 31, 2018, when a triumphant Ministry gathered the unions and decreed the end of an era of waiting and promised the publication of the list “in a short time.” As of today, September 6, 2018, the list has still not been published.

At the same time as the numerous postponements, a call for applications “Mibact 500 for Culture” was published in April 2016 where 80 positions were put up for competition throughout Italy for the profile of restoration officer. The notice provided for a total of 500 posts possibly to be doubled over the 3-year period in which the rankings of successful candidates in the various profiles would remain in place for shortfalls. Among the various figures required were: Anthropologists, demoethnoanthropologists, promotion and communication officers, art historians, architects, archaeologists, archivists and librarians. The call for applications for the Restoration Officer profile had a strong inconsistency from the outset: it required possession of the qualification of restorer under Article 29 or Article 182 of Legislative Decree 42/2004 (Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code) at the time of the application i.e., the qualification had to have been obtained by June 2016 (at that time was the date when the ministry was scheduled to finish its work and publish the aforementioned list). Problems arose from the moment when the inter-ministerial committee that was in charge of verifying the requirements and compiling the list asked for a further extension of 6 months, then extended for another year, then extended for another 3 months, and finally imperatively postponed to May 31 this year.

Participants akin to the training path of the undersigned, participated without any reservation, possessing the requirements ex art.29 (restorers who obtained the title with a dedicated degree, current single-cycle master’s degree class in conservation and restoration of BB.CC.); the other participants requested and obtained by TAR ruling to participate with reservation, possessing only potentially the title of restorer ex Art.182 (for years of work, or training paths prior to the establishment of the single-cycle master’s degree class associated with years of work, etc.). The competition started with a pre-selection test on August 3, 2016. It suffered a setback until February 2017 (because the committee that was to prepare the written tests and validate the list of participants in the competition waited for an opinion from the then Mibact to proceed with the publication of the list of eligible candidates), the candidates took the 2 written tests in mid-March 2017. The correction of the papers lasted almost 8 months, the orals were in fact held in November 2017, concluding on the 23rd.

Since then, traces of any official communication have been lost, and a blame-shift began between The Ripam Formez that guaranteed the conduct of the competition and Mibac. Even now, every phone call to one or the other office involves a succession of vague and imprecise answers, and there is no communication of any kind on the dedicated websites. The other profiles had their first hires as early as May 2017 (anthropologists); the last were archivists, hired in March 2018. On September 1, a good part of the successful candidates in the sliding rankings of many profiles including: promotion and communication officers, architects, archivists, art historians, and archaeologists also signed and took office.

It can be understood how, on a day like this, when the minister speaks of new recruitment competitions to be announced as early as 2019, of sliding rankings for the last remaining eligible, we supposed future officials Restorers feel sidelined, forgotten, since today there was no mention of the only profile of officials who the ranking list never saw it published.

The professional associations are all devoted to media pressure for the publication of the official list of restorers, so 171 users (who, by the way, in the near future in addition to having their title recognized will also find themselves with a much envied permanent contract) are certainly of no importance whatsoever, and not worth the trouble. We have been left alone, yet many of us find ourselves suspended in limbo, not knowing how but especially when we will be called to work. Ours is a republic founded on work (art.1 Const.), our Republic recognizes and promotes culture, protects the landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the nation (art.9 Const.), it is shameful how the fundamental principles of our Constitution are being violated, the same ones that made us study on repeat, for 2 years, in order to have the chance to realize ourselves professionally within the Public Administration.

Naples, September 6, 2018
Alessia Zaccaria

Restorers' protest: they left us alone. Shameful that they disregard the Constitution
Restorers' protest: they left us alone. Shameful that they disregard the Constitution