Innovative forms of cultural participation encouraged in state museums, historical sites and archaeological areas, through an ad-hoc call for proposals promoted by the Ministry of Heritage.
8.2.2 Policies and programmes
Since the mid 1990s, several initiatives have been undertaken to foster participation, although mainly on the supply side: reopening of closed museums, prolonging opening hours of museums and other heritage sites, and improving equipment along with general modernisation of museum services. More recently, the huge success of new, architecturally bold and appealing cultural infrastructures – such as the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, or several museums of contemporary arts (e.g. the MAXXI in Rome, the MART in Rovereto…) – in attracting and blending different and unconventional new types of audiences should be underlined.
Furthermore, special events of international significance – such as the White Nights, the Museum Nights, the Heritage Weeks, the Feasts of Music and of Cinema – strategically aimed at involving citizenship and tourists alike, have by now become very popular in Italy, where they appeal to more and more huge crowds.
On the demand side, the frequent adoption of measures mainly targeted at attracting new and younger audiences, like the introduction of innovative, more flexible types of theatre subscriptions, of lower prices for cinema attendance in the afternoon, etc., by MiBAC and by local authorities alike,- should also be mentioned.
Furthermore, the creation of a new DG for the Valorisation of Cultural Heritage in 2009 (DG Val, see chapter 2.3), with its commitment to improving awareness in Italian citizens of the relevance of the country's heritage, has contributed to giving a temporary strong boost to audiences figures for national museums and sites (see chapter 8.2.1). Much use has actually been made of advertising campaigns, and other popular techniques, like those aimed at multiplying promotional opportunities for free access.
However, audience studies or detailed research on the needs and expectations of those who do not visit museums / heritage institutions or do not participate in music, opera and theatre events are not regularly carried out in Italy, as two recent overviews commissioned by the DG Val further highlighted (Parca, 2012; Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, 2011). In order for this gap to be gradually filled, the DG is planning to establish an Observatory of heritage institutions audiences (see chapter 4.2.2).
In comparison with other countries, where the use of marketing and access development strategies to increase cultural participation are by far more advanced and spread out, at the national as well as at regional and local level, there is still much space, in our country, for more strategic actions to ensure that participation in cultural life is an opportunity for everyone.
With exactly this aim in mind, in spring 2012 the DG Val launched a call for proposals addressed to national museums, archaeological areas and historical sites to help them rethink their communication tools and processes through a participatory approach (http://www.valorizzazione.beniculturali.it/it/notizie/265-invito-proposte.html).
More in particular, the calls for proposals' goals were:
The DG Val received 50 applications, 17 of which were selected by an ad hoc commission in October 2012. Due to the success of the call, the initial overall grant of 500 000 EUR was increased to 900 000 EUR. The selected projects, which started at the beginning of 2013 and will have to be completed by the end of same year, range from re-designed visit trails and the improvement of services and communication tools in partnership with local organisations (including centres for the elderly or writers' academies), to agreements with nearby commercial centres in order to attract new audiences. Most of the projects implied the development of an extensive network of partners, from schools to local authorities, NGOs, libraries and archives.
Other initiatives of the DG Val with a view to increasing access and participation include: