Cultural Infrastructures

Cultural Infrastructures

The Department of Culture and Arts of the Government of Western Australia has issued guidelines for the planning of cultural infrastructure for the 2012-2014 time period offering insights and clarifications.
We fully support the general systemized approach to  those issues that have driven our projects for years and that deserve greater attention from the public administration responsible for the development of tourism and promotion of cultural heritage.

The objective of the Australian guidelines is to align the planning of sustainable cultural infrastructure with public values of creativity and involvement in order to enhance performance and ensure the best use of resources.

Some key concepts to think about:
a community needs to plan according to their skills, abilities and experiences;people, organizations, collections of historical and artistic merit, technology, the built assets altogether represent cultural infrastructure;
partnerships are key components of cultural infrastructure and so are investments, the sharing of expertise, skills, ideas and resources.
the longevity of an investment should be evaluated with respect to costs associated with the provision of services and the maintenance of cultural infrastructure.
components of cultural infrastructure are tangible and intangible (hard and soft infrastructures)

Tangible infrastructure refers to the ancient and modern structures and spaces intended for artistic and cultural activities

Intangible infrastructure is related to technology (educational, musical, lighting, film manufacturing, engineering, etc.), collections, arts and crafts, popular tradition, modern and ancient works of art, collective memory, and the community and organizations whose assets should be viewed in their skills and experiences.

A strong emphasis is placed on technology as atool to enhance the access and link to art and culture;
it is a creative medium:
a tool to preserve, conserve, interpret and share collections and cultural material

This premise leads to a modus operandi based on:
a coordinated approach with the local cultural system to respond appropriately to the standards in the cultural sectors and to obtain greater community involvement
the promotion of connections with other sectors in order to gain a greater understanding on how to cooperate with the community (for example, economic sectors, tour operators);
the promotion of research and discussion to emphasize the collective understanding of the different cultures and artistic contexts of the community,
the creation of opportunities for the development of skills and expertise that contribute to the training of creative people and new sectors of the economy.

We fully support the setting of the Australian directives and especially their having attributed a key role to man, the local culture, the relationship between culture and artistic products, the creation of new markets, and intellectual capital. It is on this latter issue that we seek to raise awareness among our stakeholders, especially public authorities that have the responsibility to create employment opportunities, to provide training and to preserve the heritage.

These tasks have to be performed within a comprehensive overall plan knowing that a poor analysis and especially the non-awareness of the mechanisms of cause and effect of each action, will certainly determine the high costs in the long run.

Hence our commitment towards the valorization of projects involving the land and community through processes of raising awareness, training and comparing and contrasting that are a necessary step to the revival of craftsmanship, arts and crafts, customs and uses of the tradition on which to build new businesses serving the local territory.

Under the planned conservation programs that we talked about in the “Vision and Values” section this approach is vital. Our cultural heritage requires substantial investments for the maintenance and conservation of these resources and must be brought back within a structured program that engages the community, community organizations, people, and intellectual capital. It is necessary to get the productive sectors involved, create synergies, encourage discussion and communication, awareness and training.

Our project to develop the town of Burgio is in this sense a pilot project for the town and with the  town involving local craftsmen, youth, public authorities, tour operators all eager to get to work and help disseminate a growing awareness of their roots, of their own history that they now recognize in every brick, in the food they eat, the products of their land, customs, while learning to respect the environment, artisans, and their crafts.

The young people that we have trained are aware of the value of the micro economy made up of shops, stores, craft products, and will also learn that with hard work and dedication it is possible to boost sectors of the small local economy. They will also learn that the micro economy will give the resources to preserve and maintain their heritage

If we apply this approach to more complex contexts, the result will not change. Valorizing heritage means to create the conditions for it to support itself.

Thus investing in cultural infrastructure means working on long-term projects by setting short-interval goals that respond to an overall plan that focuses on the galvanizing mechanisms of production dynamics. In this planning, heritage conservation would fit as part of the production process and it would undoubtedly benefit from it.