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EcocDay Special, in the culture capitals the New European Bauhaus

By Advertorial November 02, 2021
Expo 2020, The Italian Pavillion Expo 2020, The Italian Pavillion Photo by EcocNews

(By Advertorial)

"The European Capitals of Culture network can be the experimentation laboratory for projects inspired by the New European Bauhaus, and the platform for exchanging and sharing knowledge." This is the message proclaimed by Rossella Tarantino, Development and International Relations Manager of the Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, at the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The occasion was the International Forum, the opening event of the European Capitals of Culture Day, organized by the Foundation in partnership with the Commissioner General of Italy and under the patronage of the European Commission.

The conference, moderated by RAI journalist Barbara Carfagna, was opened by the volunteers of the Italy Pavilion, young people from various Italian universities, who brought to the fore both the experiences they are living and the themes of the day.  This was followed by the speech of Paolo Glisenti, Commissioner General of the Italy Pavilion, who spoke of "a historic day in which the European Capitals of Culture come together for the first time outside Europe, in a place like the Italy Pavilion, which is the synthesis of all the values of which these cities are the bearers". He then read out the message from the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini: "Italy firmly believes in the role of culture as an engine for sustainable and inclusive development, a concept widely reiterated at the G20 Culture Minister’s meeting. A culture that we have defined as a central factor of economic and human growth, a culture whose role it is to unite the world - a role that we recognize as even more crucial in this post-pandemic phase.  The experience of Matera European City of Culture 2019 is particularly significant in highlighting how the European City of Culture has been able to anticipate and develop innovative approaches in line with the aims of the New European Bauhaus", demonstrating that "the Open Design School of Matera 2019 is a visionary and forward-looking project".

In her contribution, given remotely, Barbara Gessler, Head of the "Creative Europe and ECoC programme" Unit - European Commission, recalled how difficult these two years of pandemic have been for the world of culture and therefore also for the European Capitals of Culture 2020, Rijeka in Croatia and Galway in Ireland, which have had to reshape their program, while managing to find solutions for getting citizens involved in alternative ways. "In this way," Gessler concluded, "they have confirmed their resilience, creativity and farsightedness, exemplifying once again the role of culture for connecting people, recreating locations, and creating social inclusion". (All speech here)

In his video message, Benedetto Della Vedova, Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, pointed out that "Matera 2019, along with the other European Capitals of Culture, is a prime example of how culture can initiate processes of urban transformation and create sustainable cities and communities."  A concept also expressed by Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy in Dubai, who spoke of Matera as the proof that culture is a driver of development for the economy of our country, and an invitation to capitalize on the virtuous processes set in motion by the European Capitals of Culture.

The floor was then given to Rossella Tarantino, who explained the objectives of the Ecoc Day: "With this initiative we wanted to bring the talent, the genius of the European Capitals of Culture to the Expo in Dubai. The path to building the European Capitals of Culture brings together three elements: beauty, unity, sustainability. These cities experiment with unconventional use of space and new, iconic cultural infrastructures are designed on the basis of sustainable principles, engaging people, expanding city boundaries, and bringing life to more remote areas. The European Capital of Culture is also a symbol of beauty, not only as external beauty, since it allows to reconnect the city to nature, to increase the sense of belonging, to encourage opening up communities and building bridges - guaranteeing to everyone the right of access to culture, in an endeavour not to leave anyone behind. These cities are therefore a platform for experimentation in the practices promoted by the New European Bauhaus."

 The floor was then taken by keynote speaker Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT and one of the designers of the Italy Pavilion, totally inspired by the principles of sustainability, circularity, reuse, creative genius and beauty. "The relationship between the New European Bauhaus and the European Capitals of Culture," said Ratti, "is the possibility for experimentation, for exploring the concept of the sustainable city". They are a living and perpetual laboratory where we can investigate and improve the integration of nature and human intervention. Here we can explore how to evolve this relationship and make our environment increasingly part of our cultural values."

The second part of the conference was dedicated to the projects of the European Capitals of Culture inspired by the principles of the New European Bauhaus. Novi Sad 2022, represented by Sara Vuletić, Programme Director, divided the city into five hubs, creating in each of them a "cultural station" allowing the implementation of new participatory policies vis-a-vis its citizens. Esch 2022, with Thierry Kruchten, Head of Tourism, Mobility and Sustainable Development, has reclaimed urban areas, working on peripheral regions and the conversion of spaces for use by citizens and tourists. Kaunas 2022, with Dovilė Butnoriūtė, Head of International Relations, included in the programme projects of integration between cityscape and nature, with multipurpose spaces where the environment is linked to people's everyday activities. Nova Gorica 2025, with Kaja Širok, Head of the EPICenter programme of a joint cross-border European Capital of Culture, aims to create a city without borders, uniting the Slovenian and Italian sides, a theme that they wants to export to Europe, for the benefit of integration policies. Matera 2019, with project manager Rita Orlando, talked about the activities of the Open Design School, a laboratory for experimenting open, sustainable and inclusive design solutions, which fully embraces the principles of the New European Bauhaus, of which it is a partner.

The Forum was closed by the presentation of the Mayor of Matera, Domenico Bennardi, who emphasized the immense value of Matera's heritage and how this can be used for the further development of the city. 

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