The draft of the Ministry's new reform: fewer autonomous museums, fashion among the competencies, more powers to Rome

Minister Bonisoli has prepared the draft of the reform of the Ministry of Culture: more powers to Rome, fewer autonomous museums, the entry of fashion.

The discussion on the draft of the reform of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage tagged Alberto Bonisoli is underway these days: the draft of the DPCM still has to be screened by the ministers of Economy and Civil Service, however, and is therefore still liable to major changes, but from the text it is possible to guess what are the guidelines that animated it (in essence, it is a reform that dismantles some of the cornerstones of the Franceschini reform of 2014). The main changes can be summarized as follows: more power to the Secretary General of MiBAC (and thus more power at the center of the ministry), creation of a new Directorate General “Contracts and Concessions,” amalgamation of the Directorate General for Archeology and the Directorate General for Fine Arts and Landscape, entry of fashion into the areas protected by MiBAC, export offices becoming separate bodies from the Superintendencies, reduction in the number of autonomous museums, abolition of their boards of directors, transformation of regional museum poles into “territorial directorates of museum networks,” abolition of regional heritage commissions. Let’s look in detail below at the main changes.

It begins with the extension of the powers of the secretary general. Among his new powers, quoting from the text of the draft: “in cases of necessity and urgency, the secretary general may take over a vacant executive office at the general level”; “takes care of the preparation of programs and acts to be submitted to the CIPE coordinates activities for the implementation of interventions on the territory of particular complexity and strategic importance”; “takes care of the coordination of the Ministry’s information systems.” “promotes and coordinates the historical reconnaissance and digitization, by the directorates-general, each within its area of competence, of the administrative activity put in place by the State in the protection of cultural heritage”; “promotes and coordinates the digitization, by the directorates-general, of the national cultural heritage”; “performs the tasks of central authority provided for in Article 4 of Directive no. 2014/60/EU of May 15, 2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State”; “ensures the coordination of policies on loans abroad of cultural goods”; ensures the coordination in the field of tourism policies with the competent Ministry of Agricultural Food, Forestry and Tourism Policies“; ”ensures the coordination of policies on institutional communication and information, including through the Ministry’s website and in connection with the Press Office."

In addition, new executive offices of general level are established in the General Secretariat, which are the Unit for Planning, Innovation and Digitization of Processes (which carries out “support tasks in the field of strategic planning, innovation and digitization of processes”) and theUnit for Cultural Heritage Security and Emergency Management (which “ensures the coordination and implementation of all initiatives in the field of cultural heritage security and coordination of interventions resulting from national and international emergencies, also in collaboration with other relevant administrations; any special offices established pursuant to Article 54, paragraph 2-bis of Legislative Decree July 30, 1999, no. 300”).

As for the general directorates, as mentioned, Archaeology and Fine Arts and Landscape (inheriting their competencies, with the added possibility of directly entering into agreements with the regions for the joint drafting of landscape plans: previously it was limited to preparing the proposal for approval by the minister), the one for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries becomes the Directorate General for "Contemporary Creativity and Urban Regeneration,“ Cinema is transformed into ”Cinema and Audiovisual" (with the same competencies) and a new Directorate General for “Contracts and Concessions” is created. The Education and Research Directorate is entrusted with the functions of policy, supervision and control over the School of Cultural Assets and Activities, while the Museums Directorate will have, among others, the task of drawing up “multi-year programs for the promotion of the Italian cultural heritage abroad and for the common enhancement of the testimonies of the dialogue and exchanges between Italian and foreign artistic cultures, favoring in particular the establishment of integrated museum networks with foreign museums and museum networks.” to develop “strategic directions and projects related to the enhancement and promotion of cultural itineraries and landscape excellence and initiatives aimed at promoting the knowledge of territorial identities and cultural roots of local communities, also in liaison with the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, Forestry and Tourism Policies and the Regions.” and the possibility of “authorizing, on the basis of the Minister’s guidelines, dufficio or at the request of the territorial directors of museum networks or the directors of institutes and museums with special autonomy concerned, the assignment of cultural assets from one institute or place of state culture to another, in compliance, however, with any contractual provisions regarding the destination of the assets.”

The new “Contemporary Creativity and Urban Regeneration” directorate, which as mentioned replaces the “Contemporary Art and Architecture” directorate, inherits the latter’s competencies while extending them to fashion and design: in particular, reads the draft DPCM, the new directorate “promotes and supports research, talents and Italian excellence in the field of contemporary Italian art and architecture, design and fashion,” “promotes the knowledge of art and culture architecture, design and contemporary Italian fashion abroad, without prejudice to and in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.” “promotes creativity and production in the field of contemporary art and architecture, design, fashion, and disseminates their knowledge, enhancing, including through competitions, the works of young artists and creatives,” “promotes and participates in the realization of studies, research and scientific initiatives on the subject of inventorying, cataloging works of contemporary art and architecture, design and fashion and mapping urban spaces.”

What’s more, a General Directorate “Contracts and Concessions” is created, which, in effect, centralizes the competencies concerning contractual activities, procurement and concessions. These are the competencies identified in the draft: “a) performs the functions of the contracting station for public works, services and supply contracts of the Ministry’s headquarters; b) performs the functions of the contracting station for the Ministry’s peripheral offices for the awarding of contracts or concessions, within the limits of value and object that are defined by ministerial decree having a non-regulatory nature; c) handles the Ministry’s relations with the central purchasing bodies for the awarding of contracts or concessions, defining the criteria, methods and conditions for making use of them; d) carries out activities of guidance, support and advice to the central offices and, through the District Secretariats, to the peripheral ones in matters of public contracts for works, services and supplies, also through the elaboration of guidelines, notices, specifications and standard agreements e) carries out activities of guidance, support and advice to the central offices and, through the District Secretariats, to the peripheral ones on the subject of public-private partnership relations, including institutionalized ones, for the enhancement and use of cultural heritage, through the elaboration of guidelines, notices, conventions and agreements-types f) provides for the definition of uniform criteria for the determination of concessionary fees by the offices; g) carries out activities of guidance, support and advice to the central offices and, through the District Secretariats, to the peripheral ones on the subject of sponsorships, donations and patronage; h) supervises the proper allocation and exercise of the powers of the peripheral offices on the subject of contracts and concessions, also with regard to theffective compliance with the limits of value and object set pursuant to subparagraph b); i) takes care, in agreement with the General Directorate for Education and Research, of the training and promotion of the technical specialization of the administrative personnel in charge of the Ministry’s contractual activity at the central and peripheral levels; l) carries out study activities aimed at the transposition and preparation of normative acts of the European Union in the field of public contracts; m) takes care of relations with national, European Union and international bodies in the field of public contracts.”

The Council for the Performing Arts changes its name to become the Consiglio superiore dello spettacolo, a Consiglio superiore del cinema e dellaudiovisivo is established, and since the responsibilities for tourism have passed to the Ministry of Agriculture, the “Standing Committee for the Promotion of Tourism in Italy” will no longer exist within MiBAC. Then there are some “promotions” at central institutes: that is, theOpificio delle Pietre dure and theIstituto Centrale per la Grafica become institutes with special autonomy. Autonomous museums, on the other hand, are reorganized: the Galleria Borghese, the Uffizi, the GNAM in Rome, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Museo Nazionale Romano, the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo, the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, the Pinacoteca di Brera, and the Reggia di Caserta retain their autonomy as general management level offices. Retaining their autonomy, however, as non-general management level offices are the Complesso monumentale della Pilotta, the Musei Nazionali delle Marche, the Musei Nazionali dell’Umbria, the Gallerie Estensi, the Gallerie Nazionali d’Arte Antica, the Musei Reali, the Museo delle Civiltà, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto, the Barcello Museums, the Archaeological Park of the Phlegraean Fields, the Archaeological Park of Herculaneum, the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica, the Archaeological Park of Paestum, the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the Royal Palace of Genoa, Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este. Thus, the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, the Appia Antica Archaeological Park, and the Miramare Castle in Trieste lose their autonomy. At the moment it is not known what will happen to them: they will probably become dependent museums of the new “territorial directorates of museum networks.” In addition, another novelty concerns museums: references to the boards of directors of autonomous institutes disappear from the draft of the DPCM: it is known that the will of the current minister is in fact to eliminate them.

The territorial directorates of museum networks inherit the competences of the old regional museum poles: however, the word “regional” disappears from the text (probably the districts will also be identified on bases that will not follow the museums’ affiliation to the regions) and the museums become more independent (for example, the “definition of the cultural project of each institute assigned to the territorial directorate of museum networks” is no longer taken care of by the pole, but by the individual directors, and the new territorial directorates will oversee this definition). Regional secretariats thus become district secretariats.

Export offices are detached from the superintendencies and become offices of non-general management level, defined as “peripheral articulations of the General Directorate of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape.” The text reads, “with reference to archival goods, they functionally depend on the General Directorate for Archives and, with reference to library goods, on the General Directorate for Libraries and Cultural Institutes. They provide in matters of exit from the national territory, entry into the national territory and export from the territory of the European Union of things that have cultural interest and cultural goods, including archival and book goods, whose owners reside in the territory of the Office. They shall propose the compulsory purchase of the things of cultural interest presented for export and supervise to prevent their clandestine export.”

Finally, the paragraph for which State Archives and Libraries “shall provide for the purchase of goods and services in economy and carry out works for an amount not exceeding 100,000 euros” is eliminated, and, as mentioned, regional heritage commissions are abolished.

Pictured: the Collegio Romano, headquarters of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Ph. Credit Windows on Art

The draft of the Ministry's new reform: fewer autonomous museums, fashion among the competencies, more powers to Rome
The draft of the Ministry's new reform: fewer autonomous museums, fashion among the competencies, more powers to Rome

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