Bonisoli presents his culture program to the Chamber: hiring, support for small museums, cultural diplomacy

The Minister of Cultural Heritage, Alberto Bonisoli, presented the programmatic lines of his ministry to the House: the priority is recruitment.

Yesterday the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Alberto Bonisoli, presented at a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies the programmatic lines that will guide his action. The full speech can be seen on the House website, and here we summarize the main passages.

On tourism, which is now no longer under the purview of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage but has been merged with agriculture, Bonisoli said, “I am happy to no longer have tourism within the Ministry. I think the fact that we have spun off tourism from the ministry is an opportunity, for two reasons: first because the piece of tourism that we were dealing with was 70 percent fiscal in nature, and second because because of the kind of role that the state has, within tourism there was actually not a lot of room to maneuver. Now we can focus on policies of a cultural nature, and tourism spillovers are but one of the possibilities that can be achieved.”

The minister will turn a great deal of attention toward Matera 2019, considered a key event for the country’s image, as indeed Bonisoli has already stated in recent days, “I had not realized how famous Matera 2019 was in Europe. So we have in our hands from a media and cultural point of view a unique opportunity, which we cannot miss. Matera 2019 must become one of the main activities within a grand framework of cultural diplomacy that I will carry on as long as I am minister. Whether we like it or not, we abroad are known mainly for culture.”

One of the campaign bullets of the 5 Star Movement, the distribution of public funds, will also characterize Alberto Bonisoli’s action: “one of the priorities is to understand, manage and improve the processes of allocation and selection of financial resources to the projects that are presented. This is a problem of credibility: the first thing that happened to me as minister was to receive messages from entities that had not been awarded the desired contribution. It struck me that everyone is complaining: I suspect that we are not credible enough, or that we have not put in place processes that are credible enough externally to make the selection acceptable.”

The culture titular then also spent words on how important it is to motivate civil servants: “If we could give a little more self-esteem to those who work in the state machine, we would do a great thing. To be a servant of the state is a very important thing, and it is right that those who do it should have the prestige of this kind of activity and at the same time the responsibility that the work of a servant of the state can generate towards the community. More rigor in behavior, more representativeness toward society.”

As for the relationship between the public and private sectors, Bonisoli says, “I like the private sector: it has strengths, energy and motivation that the public does not have. The public, conversely, has attention, purpose and rigor that the private will never have. When we can make the public work well in synergy with the private we have a situation that I think can work. I’m realizing that in our field we don’t have some stakes that can help the decision-maker on the public side to interact properly with the private side.”

Still, clamored for by the grassroots, staff hiring was listed as one of the priorities: “I plan to go ahead with an extraordinary hiring plan, for archives, libraries, superintendencies and museums. We are coming from a de facto total turnover freeze: we are understaffed and we are expecting, since the average age is very high, hundreds of people a year to leave the ministry. In the meantime, we have been plugging holes with ... creative solutions (I have yet to figure out, for example, what scontrinistas are). As for volunteerism, there is a good, fair, and even fruitful way to involve it: thank God it is an area that people are passionate about (there are people who would pay to serve in a museum), and if we can do these people a favor and benefit them at the same time, I’m just happy. But we should not hide behind a finger: we need thousands of hires in the next few years. We have to call the problem by its name, we have to find resources to do it right: open competitions, permanent contracts, people with decent qualifications (graduates, art historians, archaeologists, architects). Not forgetting the management part, with a few management economists and a few jurists that wouldn’t hurt.”

Another priority of the minister is young people and their relationship with culture: “One of the effects of the evolution of technologies is that there are the younger generations who acquire and process information differently and are likely to consume culture differently. We have to ask ourselves the question of how to incentivize the consumption of culture and how to do it, and what kind of culture young people need.” On 18app, Bonisoli announced that it will be extended for 2018 and 2019. For this year nothing will change, while for 2019 there will be adjustments: “we have a moral duty to the country and to the younger generations to try to incentivize them to consume culture. We have to focus on young people, it should not only be 18-year-olds, there can also be differentiated forms of support.”

Regarding increasing public support for small museums, Bonisoli says that “it is a museum reality that it is difficult to imagine that it can stand on its own. But it is also difficult to imagine that in the future here there could be a situation where any necessary resources are provided by the state: it would be a sign of pathology and not good management. We need to find formulas so that support increases, and the support is sustainable, and perhaps more generous distribution of the resources generated by large museums.”

A few words also for peripheries and education: “there is a need for more resources for innovative, frontier projects (such as the general direction of architecture, urban peripheries, education): budgets are limited. I think we need to give more energy, education is something we need to bet on, but we need to allocate the right resources.” Also, on digitization, Bonisoli states that “digitization is important: it has already started and is expected to go on in the future, but we would like to strengthen it. Getting to the single national catalog will be very important, also for everything that will follow.”

A separate chapter is free Sundays, a topic on which Bonisoli expressed himself in these terms: “I have been asked what I think about free Sundays. What I can tell you is that they are staying, so tourists who come to free Sundays in August will get in for free, in September they will get in for free, in October I don’t know (they will probably get in for free), and from November on we will see. Beyond the jokes, we are talking about cultural marketing. If I were a museum director, I would ask for two things: first, to be allowed a little bit more freedom to make some kind of pricing, fee, time and segmentation policies. The second, even if there was something at the national level, to have the drift at the local level. That’s because it’s probably not the case that the museum in Mantua and the museum in Rome are the same thing. Free Sundays have helped draw attention to museum attendance, that’s a fact: tourists have increased, let’s take that as a starting point. But let’s see from here on how we can move forward: I think there are various opportunities that can be put in place to give better value to the assets we have, for example by distinguishing by age group. Another solution could also be the creation of cards.”

Finally, attention to live entertainment: “we need more money, we need to review the algorithms (if so many are complaining, there will be some reason), we need to fine-tune the regulations. The Lyric Symphony Foundations are an asset of the country, and they will never be financially self-sufficient. To be so they would have to do the Traviata in twenty minutes and in bursts, and I don’t think that helps the country. We have to give them credibility and support, and we have to bet in their future. However, there are shrewdnesses in governance and management specificities that need to be addressed to secure them. I would be interested that support from the state is assured and programmable: the footer or the budget hole to be covered or the financial emergency should be the exception.”

Bonisoli presents his culture program to the Chamber: hiring, support for small museums, cultural diplomacy
Bonisoli presents his culture program to the Chamber: hiring, support for small museums, cultural diplomacy

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.