‘Great Plan for Pompei’ enacted in 2011 with support from ERDF following collapses.
New set of strategies and guidelines by the Min of Culture to address key weaknesses in the enhancement of Italian heritage and promote greater accessibility of national heritage institutions.
4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
Heritage has always been at the core of Italy's cultural policy. The Italian state, through the Ministry for Heritage and Cultural Activities (MiBAC), is not only responsible for the strategic task involved in the protection of the country's extremely rich and multi-layered heritage, but has direct responsibility for the management of a huge number of national heritage institutions, including 207 state museums, 213 monuments and archaeological sites, 46 libraries and 104 archives (MiBAC, Minicifre… 2010).
The key issues currently being debated, besides the ones already described in chapter 4.2.1, dealing with the management and protection of such a vast heritage, are:
The shrinking of state funds for heritage protection (see chapter 6.2.3) since 2000 is very controversial, and it has induced several protests and resignations in the upper levels of responsibility within the Ministry (see chapter 4.2.1). There is no doubt, in fact, that some of the decline of Italy's more precious artistic and historic monuments and sites can be attributed to a shortfall in funds, along with the related shortfall in the highly specialised staff entrusted with conservation.
The most well known and emblematic – if certainly not the only – example of such a decline are the protracted collapses at Pompei's walls and artefacts taking place, in rapid succession, between 2010 and 2011. As a reaction to the worldwide emotion caused by such collapses, urgent action was needed. After the first 80 million EUR of additional funds earmarked for heritage protection, and in particular for Pompei, by Leg. Decree 34/2011, a special, extraordinary Great Plan for Pompei was jointly drafted by MiBAC and the European Commission, making available 105 million EUR (42 million stemming from the European Regional Development Fund, and 63 million from the Italian state). The plan – officially announced by Prime Minister Monti and the Ministries for Heritage and for Territorial Cohesion in January 2012 – is aimed at the rehabilitation and restoration of the whole archaeological area, as well as at the development of tourism, both national and international. Works should come to an end in 2015.
As far as fostering public-private partnership is concerned, the pace of reform is gradual, and is still underway. A first measure adopted – Law 4/93 – opened the doors of national museums to private agents willing to take over the management of the so-called "auxiliary services" (bookshops and museum shops, cafeterias, merchandising, etc). Subsequent financial laws have broadened the scope of private intervention, extending it to core museum activities such as education and exhibitions. Leg. Decree 368/98 enabled the Ministry for Heritage to temporarily hand over the management of certain museums and other heritage institutions to ad hoc private foundations. Another more indulgent measure (Budget Law 2002) would simply allow the Ministry to privatise public services aimed at increasing access to cultural heritage. All these measures have been substantially endorsed, and subsequently further modified, by calling for more stringent requirements, under the new Heritage and Landscape Codex (see chapter 5.3.3).
As a matter of fact, though, experiments with the public-private partnership have been carried out so far more frequently either at the local level (Rome, Venice..), or in the framework of state-local cooperation. The latter was the case of the Egyptian Museum of Turin (see chapter 7.1), the first national museum to be transformed, in 2004, into a public / private foundation, with the participation of MiBAC, the Piedmont Region and the Turin Province and Municipality, along with the local banking foundations. More recently, in 2010, MAXXI – the new state museum for contemporary arts (see chapter 8.1.1) – was given foundation status: although, for the time being, the foundation is only supported by the state, in the future it could be opening up to private entities.
Italy's action in the heritage field is presently more and more focused on its modernisation through the adoption of new technologies for the conservation and promotion of its historical and artistic assets – satellite archaeological prospects, digital cataloguing systems, information services for visitors, etc. - often in partnership with other countries in the framework of EU projects (see chapter 3.4.3 and chapter 4.2.11).
The ministerial programme ICT Culture – in which Italy is acting as a landmark at European level – is mainly focused on promoting digital cultural contents on the web. Other programmes, like Internetculturale and Culturaitalia - as well as the European project Michael (see chapter 3.4.3), in which Italy is actively participating - are aimed at fostering the digital accessibility of heritage, libraries and archives. An agreement with Google has been signed, as well, to make Italy's main sites more accessible through the digital programme Google Street View: the first site to be made accessible is Pompei.
Alongside "virtual" access, wider issues of cultural attendance and participation have been addressed by the DG for the Enhancement of Cultural Heritage since its creation in 2009 (see chapter 2.3 and chapter 3.2). While Art. 6 of the Heritage and Landscape Codex generally defines the key goals of "enhancement" as "promoting the knowledge of cultural heritage and guaranteeing the best possible conditions for its public utilisation and enjoyment, including on the part of people with disabilities", the challenge remains how to nurture a deeper heritage awareness through programmes and activities aiming not only to increase attendance figures, but also (and most significantly) to initiate a new, closer relationship with diverse audiences, one which is rooted in heritage institutions' ability to listen and give voice to the needs, expectations, life experiences and knowledge systems of individuals and communities.
In order to respond to this challenge, the DG for Enhancement carried out a preliminary survey of existing data and information (studies carried out in the past few years by MiBAC itself – see Fondazione Fitzcarraldo 2011 and Parca 2012 – as well as by other institutions / organisations at a national and international level) to identify key weaknesses in the promotion and enhancement of Italian heritage, and develop a set of strategies and guidelines to redress them.
Guidelines (currently being developed and tested):
Finally, the DG is carrying out a feasibility study for the creation of an Observatory of heritage institutions audiences and a National Unit for the monitoring and evaluation of audience services.