The Region of Emilia-Romagna, lying between the Po’s great course and the peaks of the Apennines, offers a great variety of landscapes, traditional cultures, and architecture. These provide a rich deposit of shapes and materials. The Roman cities that run the length of the Via Emilia, the coast that descends from the Po Delta to the Marche, the ancient walled towns on the hills, the fertile plain, all make up part of the densely woven fabric where culture, innovation, organizational skill and flexibility within the institutions join forces with historical heritage.
A wide, well-informed, and interested public is concerned with the preservation and safe-guarding of the cultural fabric which is provided for by legislation directed at a wide variety of operation of restauration and maintenance throughout the territory. The Region works with specialized institutions such as the Istituto per i beni culturali e naturali IBACN, (Institute of Artistic, Cultural and Natural Heritage) which collaborates to the implementation of the Region’s programmes in close collaboration with Provincial and Municipal Authorities as provided for by the Regional law 18/2000. The institute is active in all cultural fields; from books to historical city centers, from collection of scientific instruments to paintings, from archival sources to photographic and cartographic documentation.
Among the numerous activities are the great cataloguing campaigns aimed at improving and updating the library services and gaining a better knowledge of the extent of the cultural resources of the entire territory and its museums. Equally important are the regular, ongoing restauration operations carried out in collaboration with the State and the Local Authorities.
The organizations of cultural events, on the other hand, is managed by AICER, (Agency for Cultural Events in Emilia-Romagna), a company with 49% of shares in the hands of private investors. Since its opening, AICER has organized and managed big expositions, complex cultural events, and educational programmes in collaboration with the Board of Tourism. In the field of live entertainment, the Region collaborates with a number of production companies. The Region of Emilia-Romagna is a founding member of the Fondazione del Teatro Comunale di Bologna (the Bologna Municipal Opera Theatre Foundation), which keeps alive, together with other theatres in Emilia Romagna, the classical musical tradition so widespead throughout the territory. There is also The Toscanini Foundation, which again boasts the Region as one of its founding members; its successful productions are ranging from contemporary music to opera, with new interpretations of Verdi in Busseto and in other ancient and atmospheric towns.
In the field of drama and dance, the Region is involved with Emilia-Romagna Theater (ERT), and the Centro della Danza (Dance Center), better known as Aterballetto. Co-ordination and marketing are handled by the Association of Theatres of Emilia Romagna, ATER, which promotes and develops theatre throughout the entire territory and abroad. The Regional Law 13 of 1999 provides the Region with effective legislation, promoting artist expression and organization in this field. The law provides for wide and detailed concertation at a local level, and assigns the 9 Provinces the role of co-ordinators, in order to better understand and promote harmonic development for all the diverse and individual realities in regional entertainment.
Regional Law 37 of 1994 provides for cultural promotion, including initiatives from deeply-rooted associations in the territory, and from Local Authorities side by side with the Region’s larger scale programmes having a wider impact on the cultural life of the whole territory.
The primary goals are to support initiatives that promote cultural, historical and artistic awareness and effective management of cultural resources. Particular attention is paid to actions that improve and update facilities dedicated to cultural promotion and the enhancement of the historical heritage. Of primary importance is the promotion of young artists in all art forms, and to this and, specific support is provided.
The Region therefore is strongly oriented towards promotion of culture that touches on all themes – from art to dance, from music to popular traditions – to instigate co-ordinated actions and events and generate real growth throughout the territory. For integrated policies, there must be systematic collaboration between all the layers of government active in the cultural field. In the first place there is a constant exchange with the State Bodies; then there is an ongoing dialogue with the Local Authorities, who are direct and invaluable partners in the growth process of the entire region. The general public also continues to be a precious and invaluable contributor, with suggestions and inspirations.
The collaborative spirit and the rational integration of resources provide guidelines for the cultural policies in Emilia-Romagna, policies aimed not only at preserving traces of a glorious past, but also at promoting new and modern cultural forms in an invigorating exchange between ancient tradition and contemporary interpretation. Vera Negri Zamagni Vice President and Councillor for Arts, Culture and Entertainment
An imagery for future memory
The Region of Emilia-Romagna is a recent invention in the long history of our country. Its birthdate is that of the political unification of Italy, when physically and politically diverse territories were joined together with a happy outcome. It was certainly a political invention–creation, but also an invention-finding at a cultural level. Within the numerous differences, a cultural singularity was discovered and reinforced, a sense of self and unique skill and know-how. The conjuncture found a structure, a civilization, which means a deep and lasting way of life and inestimable patrimony of economical, artistic, scientific and technical products.
The boundaries drawn are, at the same time, places for exchange. From the Apennines valleys – mountains crossed with many passes – to the main navigable river, the Po, down to the courses of the Adriatic Sea, they contain an archipelago of cities linked by a Great Road, the Via Emilia, which passes through them and makes them porous. If I may use a metaphor, it is like a great, ancient, inhabited bridge, crossed through by other roads run along by pilgrims, such as the Via Romea along the Sea and the Via Francigena across the mountains. A thick urban cobweb where the cities – like clearings in the forest during the Middle Ages – seems to be immersed in a complex territorial fabric – mountain plantation and “filled” geometrics, grain and fruit orchards, stock farming and its products, among the richest and most civil in Europe. Large and small cities with their gates and ports, always knotting together with many threads their local tradition and Northern Europe and Orient.
Thanks to these characteristics, the important industrial settlements become part of the territory avoiding the unmanageable phenomenon of the metropolis. An open, or at least an ajar localism acts as a conscious counterbalance to the impulse towards globalization.
Men make the places which will make them. The Region has merged the Romagnas, with their Byzantine heritage, Bologna and Ferrara, with their papal past, Modena and Parma, with their “laic” duchies – territories gathered in many different ways by history into cities and signories, into fiefdoms and monastic territories. Each real political project makes a community, ceaselessly provides a way to stay together, but must take into account the character and life-style of its citizens – as idiomatic as their dialect.
Undoubtedly few people in Europe are so attentive to the quality of the earthly nourishment we find in domestic architecture and public living spaces, from public buildings and noble palaces to rural houses, from squares to porticoes. Hence the quality of its hospitality and the privileged welcome to tourists. We must not forget that the national flag was invented in Emilia and that the only project of unified Italian cuisine was attempted in Romagna. But flavors are not alternative to learning, nor Arts and Sciences to the Art of Living. From the Etruscan and Greek vases to the painters (Correggio, Carracci or Morandi), from the cathedral sculptors (Wiligelmo) to the film directors (Fellini and Antonioni), this Region gave itself and those who have eyes for seeing an Imagery, that is an incalculable index of images which represents its great “game”. Over time, the Muses have joined hands. Here Verdi’s music resounds with the joyous words of Boiardo and Ariosto, and the mysterious words of Pico della Mirandola and Savonarola. In the original heritage of Italian culture, Poetry and Science (Marconi) are part of the great pedagogical tradition of Bologna, the first of the European universities.
The multi-cultural reality peculiar to Emilia-Romagna Region’s past and present cannot be depicted once and for all, but must be continually redefined through its images, music and writings. The new languages of the modern age – from technology to fashion, are also involved, so that its traditions become “future memory”. To live the present we can look at the future problems using the certain resources of the past.