Matera 2019

2021 has been the second year –after a great 2019 – that we have been forced to limit cultural activities and community get-togethers on account of the continuing sanitary emergency. Yet, in spite of this, we have succeeded in completing a few important projects as a legacy of the Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 experience.

First and foremost, the presentation of the results of the monitoring and assessment of the Matera 2019 experience which highlighted what was gained thanks to the ECoC title and the process it sparked as well as the changes it brought about from an economic, social and cultural point of view.

Together with the association “Open Culture 2019 Volunteers” which was set up to continue the experience of the Matera 2019 volunteers, we organized a professional development initiative called “Lezioni di volo” (Flying lessons) – a “toolbox” for learning how to “fly” in the world of cultural volunteerism and to build relationships not only in the local reality but also on a national and international scale.

During the Night of the Shooting Stars (St. Lawrence’s Night) in August, in order to raise awareness in the community as regards environmental issues such as light pollution, permanent and temporary citizens of Matera had the chance to watch the show “Matera sotto il cielo stellato. A rivedere le stelle” (“Matera under a starry sky. Gazing at the stars once again”).  On that night, the Murgia plateau was studded with tiny lights and the music originating from an encounter of Italian and African artists spread from the Idris rock throughout the old town, I Sassi.  An invitation to raise your eyes to the sky in the hope of preserving it from light pollution.

Indeed, it was to the safeguarding of and calling attention to the importance of dark skies that one of the two European projects that we completed this year was dedicated –the Interreg Europe “Night light” project. For five years, we played a key role, cooperating with institutions of seven European countries to improve regional public policies regarding these issues.

The second European project we brought to a close with a conference broadcast on an international web-radio set up especially for the occasion was the Erasmus+ project “DeuS – European Open Design School for Regional Sustainable Development”. Guiding this two-year partnership with other research institutes of nine European countries, we developed an innovative format aimed at the continuing   professional development  of operators in the cultural and creative business sectors, exporting the methodology of the Open Design School to other European countries. During those months, our experimental planning and production workshops were also at the service of our territory, such as the 3D printing course we ran for the students of Matera’s Minozzi-Festa Middle School. The Open Design School has also been selected as the official partner of the New European Bauhaus –an initiative championed by the President of the European Commission Ms Ursula von der Leyen – as a way of re-imagining our way of living together sustainably and inclusively by promoting a dialogue between art, culture, science and technology.

Among the groups we have cooperated with in town are the Matera Film Festival and the Matiff-Matera Art International Film Festival, leading up to the presentation of two films from Matera 2019 –“Il Nuovo Vangelo” ( “The New Gospel”) by Milo Rau in which the first black Jesus in the history of cinema leads a group of migrants fighting for dignity, and “Trenodia” about a public arts project with the participation of Mariangela and Vicinio Capossela which was filmed in Calabria, Campania and Basilicata in the year 2019.

Internationally, the main events we took part in were Expo 2020 Dubai where we cooperated with the Italian pavilion and Italian General Commissioner to organize the “European Capitals of Culture Day”, defined by EU Commissioner Paolo Glisenti as a “day of historic importance”. This was an opportunity to tell the story of the lively intelligence characterizing these cities as workshops where projects inspired by the New European Bauhaus are being experimented but also places where culture is a means for projects conceiving new connections between overcrowded areas and scarcely inhabited ones.

Throughout 2021, special attention has always been devoted to the hinterland areas, starting with the inauguration of Palestinian artist Emily Jacir’s works in the town of Pietrapertosa in the Lucanian Dolomites as part of the “Gardentopia” project and ending with the “In linea d’aria” festival involving five small towns in Basilicata that became artists’ residences and organized performances together with the local communities. At the end, a great final open-air event was held in Matera where participants exchanged views on how culture can generate new energy even in very remote areas.

During the course of the year, there have been several occasions –locally, nationally and internationally – where we were invited to recount our Matera 2019 experience as a reference point for all those who are eager to create for their realities new projects that have culture as a propellant.

We wish to thank all citizens, artists, institutions as well as the partners who have shared this year with us!
Happy  Future!