TURIN - The metamorphosis of Turin from working city to capital of contemporary art explained by the Regional Culture Councillor
Turin, working class city par excellence, has been transformed into the Italian territory which most of all made of culture an economic boost and a powerful tool of collective growth: an impressive metamorphosis from large factory to international capital of contemporary art. We talked about this in an exclusive interview with Michele Coppola, a former candidate for Mayor of Turin and now Councillor for Culture of the Piedmont Region.
Mr. Councillor Coppola, Turin is becoming one of the capitals of Italian art. Where are we? What is the strategy?
"Turin and Piedmont are the capital of art and of Italian cultural, certainly just like Venice, Florence, Rome. The year 2011 was inevitably special for all Italy because of the Celebrations for the 150th birthday. But it is undeniable that we worked here for such initiatives as nowhere else. This is a starting point: we opened new museums, we were able to restore closed museums, to organize initiatives - just think of the extraordinary exhibition of Leonardo's self-portrait rather than the exhibition in the Officine Grandi Riparazioni, where the past and future of Italy are celebrated and will continue in 2012. A starting point that, I think, should be a real incentive for next year".
How did the public respond to these initiatives?
"The fact that we celebrated the achievement of the one millionth visitor in ten months at the Venaria Palace is the answer to the question. There has been a great deal of attention, lots of visitors and also a good quality of visit. All comments we heard, the letters people wrote to us bring the request to continue in this direction".
Can art be the tool through which Turin looks for its revival after the progressive loss of industrial identity?
"Definitely. The cultural offer, which also becomes a tourist attraction, is a tool for defining a new identity - that clearly can not replace the industrial vocation of this land. The cultural system is a central part of an area that even in terms of economic and employment needs to work to write new pages of success. The workers in the world of culture in Piedmont are more than 40 thousand and this number also gives the feeling of what it means".
Beyond the work of the cultural department, does the political system understand the importance of all this?
"I say it does, and I give you a concrete example: on February 8, we officially introduced in Italy the credit card for culture. The Piedmont Region, with the cultural institutions that chose to participate, created this innovative tool in order to offer their support to the system. By using this card, at no additional cost, you allocate a small portion of each transaction to a single fund for culture and you can choose which museum, cultural initiative or institution to fund. This was possible because the political community believes it. From next year, it was determined that 20% of the income tax additional regional will be destined to fund cultural activities: this will ensure valuable resources."
In recent months there has been much discussion on the Rivoli Castle, and more generally on the system of museums in Turin. How far have we got?
"Rivoli is one of the great excellence of our territory and world-class excellence in contemporary art. For this reason it has to be saved: it is unthinkable to ignore the history of the castle and what the Museum of Contemporary Art represents. We're working, together with other founding members - the City of Turin, the Province of Turin and the City of Rivoli - on the simplification of administrative and bureaucratic containers in order to arrive at a single foundation, Turin Piedmont Arts and Museums, in which the artistic sensibilities and creative directions will remain independent, but the management will be unified. Boards of directors, accounting offices, communications offices must work together in a contemporary art system that covers the metropolitan area of Turin and the Piedmont in general".
As for the new president of Artissima?
"This is another Copernican revolution that we are trying to implement. We asked for people to send curricula and projects. We did not want that the traditional method of politics, that choose without a clear evidence of what happens, was the protagonist this time. We were sent 44 curricula linked to as many projects, which we will evaluate and choose in a transparent manner".
For young artists from Turin, what are you thinking to do?
"We must do more, because we focused too much on the celebration of the others. Early last year, with Luca Beatrice, we made a challenge: the exhibition Km 011, to try to give some of the limelight and attention to artists in this area. Creativity must be sustained, supported and helped. You can not think of investing in culture without supporting those who, as a matter of fact, produce culture".