The speech by the President of Fondazione Cariplo at the symposium on June 11
On June 11 took place the second symposium of Towards the XXIII International Exhibition of Triennale Milano, entitled The Earth seen from the Moon. The symposium was part of a three-appointment series that address some key issues of our present. Below is the speech by the President of Fondazione Cariplo Giovanni Fosti.
The Earth seen from the Moon, the second symposium of Towards the XXIII International Exhibition of Triennale Milano
As a representative of a philanthropic institution which has the aim to help social cohesion and development, I would like to share with you some thoughts – questions rather than answers – and I will start with one question, a question we ask ourselves also at Cariplo Foundation. While we are living through an economic and social crisis and we don’t know if a health emergency is over, is this a time to talk about culture? Should foundations support culture now, during the crisis? Our answer is “yes”, definitely “yes”. We must support culture now, more than ever. Why? Because we need, right now, strong communities to deal with the pandemic, and stronger communities need a strong and shared effort of sensemaking about what happened and what is going to happen. Culture is thus what we need as a collective effort of sensemaking, not to be overwhelmed by this new, unknown situation. We won’t therefore deny our support to culture at Cariplo Foundation but, from the perspective of our institution, we think we need to elaborate some concepts and I will give you a hint on four main issues we believe we should focus on.
Maua – Museo di Arte Urbana Aumentata, project created by Bepartè, the start-up that won the first edition of IC Innovazione Culturale of Fondazione Cariplo
The first is the issue of uncertainty and fear: the way our communities will face uncertainty will be crucial. Will we be able to cooperate, or will we let fear prevail? Which kind of contribution to cooperation will we be able to generate through culture? As a philanthropic institution, our duty should be to promote cooperation and connections, rather than looking for excellent but disconnected experiences.
A second concept we should elaborate on is the issue of inequalities. The consequences of Covid-19 are not the same for everyone. There are people who are hit more than others, due to their status, culture or wealth. Shall we foster culture as something for the few, or as an opportunity to be at hand to everyone? The pandemic asks for a rethinking of places, locations of our culture. Is it only a problem, only a damnation, or can it be a challenge to remember that there is a strong link between “where” and “who” in culture? The places we choose are the people we meet. Cariplo Foundation, as a philanthropic actor, must think of culture as something to look for not only in our cultural institutions but also at the borders of our communities. I think we should look for the novelty at the borders of our communities, where new things are going to happen, where poverty arises, people are far from institutions and are struggling to come out of the crisis, in a way or another. We estimate that more than 10.000 students in this town, one of the richest towns in Italy, don’t have access to a personal computer. Ask yourself how this lack of means can affect their participation to school, to knowledge, to culture. There are children and students who live in the same town who weren’t even able during these days to choose to attend the same lectures: are we sure that they can feel to be part of a same community?
A third issue is connection. Our virtual communities wouldn’t be possible without our digital technology. Innovation in culture will be, in some way, also digital innovation. But when we think of innovation, we must be aware that innovation is not only a different way to do things, but should be something more: a different way, for different people, with different aims. Connection, rather than production, should be the leading concept, and, if we don’t want to see the triumph of fear, with its possible consequences on society and democracy, the aim of connection should be the aim of contrasting inequalities, connecting the most excluded part of our society.
For the last and fourth issue I would like to address I would use the words "hope" and "beauty". If we want to contrast fear and rage, we need to build an opportunity to look at the future with hope – which is not the most used word these days. It is an economic and a social challenge, but economic and social challenges need cultural backgrounds. I feel beauty as a pillar of this challenge to reshape our in-Covid-19 and post-Covid-19 community. It won’t necessarily be beauty as we are used to think of it, maybe, but it won’t be possible to create hope far from an idea of beauty.
Cariplo Foundation is among the private perpetual founders of the Teatro alla Scala
Giovanni Fosti has been elected President of Fondazione Cariplo in 2019. He is Associate Professor of Practice of Government, Health and Not for Profit at SDA Bocconi and Adjunct Professor of Public Administration Economics and Management at the Bocconi University. In the academic field he researches and has a long-standing interest in social innovation, planning and transformation of local welfare systems, institutional set-ups and service models for non-self sufficiency. He is Scientific Director of the Long Term Care Observatory (OLTC) of CERGAS – SDA Bocconi.