Economics and Culture (II)

Written by  Luigi Abete
«Culture is an essential function of development, of which it is both a precondition and a consequence...»
Culture is an essential function of development, of which it is both a precondition and a consequence. The reciprocal relationships that exist between culture and the economy contribute to the creation of those factors that make for the success of a society.

This explains why Confindustria's attention to culture and the principal cultural institutions - the schools and the universities - has steadily increased, to the point of setting up a special cultural section whose primary goal is to shift the level of attention regarding culture and instruction from specialists in the sector to the ruling classes of the country as a whole.

The business community has always played a role in cultural processes and while it has a legitimate right to make culture, it also feels a growing commitment to invest in it. How else can we explain the efforts made by business and business people to encourage continuous innovation if not in terms of a vital interest in learning, in that form of applied culture that becomes technology, in research insitutes, and in the entire intellectual and cultural heritage?

Book publishing, painting, sculpture, architecture, theatre, concerts, the promotion of literary prizes - starting with the Estense and the Campiello awards - are just some of the sectors in which industry is in the forefront, bringing to bear not only its financial resources, but also its skills in planning and methodology, technology and management.
If anything, the problem hinges on establishing standards that will allow companies to "make" culture.
I am referring to the contribution that private individuals can make to the recovery, conservation, and improved enjoyment of the country's historical, cultural, artistic heritage. This means that the industrialist who intends to contribute to the safeguarding of assets belonging to the general public must be motivated to assume direct responsibility for the management of such assets, and not relegated to a marginal role.

For three years now in Italy the "Ronchey act" has been in force. This law allows private enterprise to manage some services for the state museums. Unfortunately, the act is being applied in one case only - that of the gallery of Modern Art in Rome. More needs to be done if we are to overcome a mentality whereby the state is seen as having the sole right to manage cultural assets.

In reality, cultural resources - in terms of which Italy is the richest country in the world - need to be exploited and managed using business methods, and therefore the safeguarding and control of such assets - which is and must remain the responsibility of the state - must be backed up by the managerial expertise of the business community. In this sense the vocation and experience of industry could emerge as a determinant factor.