It would seem that culture and development could go hand in hand in Italy. “Impresa Cultura” (“Cultural Enterprise”, 2018), the fourteenth edition of the Federculture Report—the most important source for updates and analysis on cultural policies, supply and demand dynamics and innovation processes—depicts a growing country and takes stock of issues faced in recent years.
The amount of money spent visiting exhibitions and museums has increased, art consumption has gone up and more people are going to see shows. The cultural sector has grown by 2.6% and the number of people reading at least one book a year has risen by 0.5%. 2017 was also a positive year for tourism in Italy. With almost 60 million arrivals from foreign countries and 212 million days spent altogether, international tourism saw an increase of 8% compared to 2016. The first few months of 2018 have also shown a positive trend, especially with regard to international tourism, which grew by 5% in terms of arrivals and 8% in terms of number of days spent in the country between January and May.
However, both new and old problems that remain regarding cultural management, serious issues and weaknesses in terms of cultural supply and production are still far from being overcome.
Regionally speaking, there are still major differences between the North and South of the country: In northern areas, the average amount spent on culture exceeds 150 Euro per month and accounts for 6% of a family’s budget, while in the south, it is less than 95 Euro per month. When you compare data from Italy with that of the Eurozone, it shows that the amount spent on culture and recreational activities by Italian families is less than the European average and way below more virtuous countries (6.6% of total spending compared to 8.5% in Europe and 11% in Sweden).
Data related to reading gives us a glimpse of the country’s enduring problem of low overall participation in cultural activities. A total of 38.8% of adults (older than 25 years of age) do not take part. In individual areas, the lack of cultural participation reaches levels of 80% (theatre) or even 90% (classical concerts).
Culture helps us to combat marginalisation, poverty, illiteracy and make our country a better, more welcoming and more inclusive place that’s stronger on the world stage and more equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead
Federculture has also identified objectives for the future of cultural enterprises and all public and private entities operating in the sector. It highlighted the urgent need for tangible actions in encouraging citizens to take part in cultural activities, both in terms of accessibility (i.e. making places of cultural interest more accessible) and citizens themselves actively caring for their own heritage by helping to manage it.
Federculture writes reports that are not just descriptive in nature, but also encourage institutions to act on certain things. One example of this is the rapid ratification of the ‘Faro Convention’, which, by introducing a much wider and more innovative concept of "cultural heritage”, promotes a new vision of the relationship between cultural heritage and communities, and promotes this relationship as a resource for sustainable development.
“The challenges posed by contemporary life, digital and technological innovation and international competition mean that a country has to be more responsive, even when it comes to culture”, Andrea Cancellato, the President of Federculture, told AgCult. “It’s a team effort; we need to be a nation aware of the resources at our disposal, able to recognise them and able to use them (well), and we have to be willing to believe in our own potential. Cultural enterprises take on their own responsibilities in the first place. Then they ask other relevant parties including the government, local entities, companies and the general public to do the same, because culture helps us to combat marginalisation, poverty, illiteracy and to make our country a better, more welcoming and more inclusive place. A country that is stronger on the world stage and more equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead. We will do this in a constructive way to help build Italy into a country that’s worthy of its history, with citizens, both young and old, who are bright, educated and cultured.”