ArtLab 2023 Matera

Artlab Southern edition is back

Among the main partners of Artlab, Materahub will host the final day of Artlab 2023 finding space for key topics of interest it shares with Fondazione Fitzcarraldo such as competencies, impacts and territories.

The 18th edition of ArtLab. Territori, Cultura, Innovazione, the event dedicated to innovation and cultural policies promoted by Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, returns to Bari and Matera from the 19th to the 21st of April 2023.

During this edition, the topics under discussion range from the role of cultural and creative enterprises in the Resiliency and Recovery Plan and in cohesion policies to the cultural welfare, the public-private partnerships, the enabling conditions for making the digital transition occur and the impacts of the Capitals of Culture.

Materahub, which has been a partner of Artlab since 2018, will bring to the table the theme of new skills for the cultural and creative ecosystem, reporting on the work it is doing with Fondazione Fitzcarraldo within the European initiative Pact for Skills. In preparation for one of the most important gatherings of the Italian cultural and creative sector, we interviewed Alessandra Gariboldi, President of Fondazione Fitzcarraldo.

How and why was Artlab conceived?

Artlab was born in 2006 in Turin as an event for local cultural managers and policymakers. In 2011 it was moved to Puglia and  enhanced its national and international scope, which was consolidated by its participation in the Frankfurt Buchmesse between 2016 and 2018. Artlab was conceived for the same reasons it still exists today, which is the need to overcome the fragmentation of the CC ecosystem and promote the dialogue between doers and decision-makers. This year we celebrate our 18th edition and what hasn’t changed is the ambition to guarantee a safe space where actors, who normally do not confront, can meet and get to know each other.

Who constitutes the ecosystem? Who does what? Where the private and the public meet? Each category of the cultural and creative system has a role and knowing which are the competencies and the perimeters of action of the other is the only way to push the sector’s limit a bit forward. For us, the only way to innovate is by speaking to each other.

Do you think Artlab had an impact on Italian politics over the years?

Yes, I do. Sometimes the effects of our work are not immediately visible, but we do have an impact. Let’s think for a second about the work we started in 2015 over the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) when we put together, possibly for the first time, a range of public actors, private foundations, artists and cultural professionals, a competence-based scenario which is now considered a privileged way to do culture.

In 2016, we  implemented the same method by promoting the review of the first law on cultural and creative enterprises, which in Italy is still under evaluation, as a result of a structured public dialogue with the MPs and sector’s professionals. More recently, for the newly elected government and parliament in 2022, Artlab created and presented a set of proposals that was the result of an unprecedented collaboration of the main professional associations.  This is how we operate and also the reason why we do it.

We want to create the conditions to make the cultural and creative sector advance by bringing to the table the needs and urgencies that emerge from the very professionals of the sectors. I do not think there are other ways to proceed!

Who are the partners of Artlab?

Artlab is firstly a network of people, companies and institutions. Today we have engaged over 40 national and international public-private entities and subjects. Their involvement changes from one edition to another and it has changed over the years according to the themes selected and the circumstances.

For example, since we started talking and focusing on the cultural and creative industries, we have started collecting the interest of more and more private companies working in the sector. In other words there hasn’t been a change in the types of partners, rather an expansion which has followed the evolution of the sector itself.

It is important to underline that our partners are not just sponsors or financial contributors, they are actors that aim to collaborate and make the CC sector advance by raising questions for the public domains and shaking decision makers.

Partners share indeed a vision, but to be such each one of them have agreed that individuals’ concerns and needs must be balanced with those of the others for the sake of the bigger picture. I think this is one of the most important and distinctive traits of Artlab, how it was designed and it functions.

What is the thematic focus of this edition?

In this 18th edition, the topics under discussion range form the role of cultural and creative enterprises in the Cohesion Policies and in the Resiliency and Recovery Plan, the cultural welfare, the public-private partnership, the new skills required by the transformation of the sector and the impact of the Capitals of Culture. 

More than in the latest editions, this year we go back to the European dimension giving evidence on how much it affects what happens locally. This European level, which in the latest years had been partially forgone due to the pandemic emergency, returns to be central for Artlab that is engaged, through Fondazione Fitzcarraldo and also with Materahub, in some of the most crucial European initiatives for the sector that must be explained to have a much more rapid impact on the territories.

For example the theme of competencies, to which Artlab dedicates an entire day in Matera, in Italy is a gigantic problem and while at European level we produce ideal profiles or new educational curricula for the sectorial reskilling, at the italian national dimension the hirings, especially from the public domains but not only, follows requests and profiles that were compliant to the social, cultural, technological and economic scenario from 20 years ago. For this reason we think it is urgent to align our public, the Italian professionals, with the objectives of the KIC, the most ambitious European project on the Cultural and Creative Sector, that considers competencies, along with research and enterprises, one of the 3 fundamental pillars for innovation.

Without people, the right people with the right competencies, there cannot be any innovation.

What is your idea for the Artlab of the future?

Well, thematically wise it is easy as a lot depends on how the context will evolve. However, from an organisational and management perspective, the concrete running of the thing is becoming more and more complicated as we continue growing for numbers of partners involved in the decision making process and of actions we undertake during the year. So far, all these partners have been put together thanks to the splendid work and persona of Ugo Bacchella, former president of Fondazione Fitzcarraldo and curator of Artlab.

Nonetheless, I think that in the future we, as the managing organisation, will become less and less important watching a community of practice work independently. My hope is that other partners will share the burden of maintaining alive and running this safe space for communal benefits. As for my ideas, we have time to deploy them, but certainly

I will work to bring back the redefining the centrality of the role of the artists and the European dimension, taking over the important role Fondazione Fitzcarraldo and Materahub have as partners of newly running KIC on cultural and creative industries.