the challenges and potential solutions of the cultural sector

And now, time for dessert: an Italian saying goes, you can’t eat performative arts. Charlotte Barbera – Curator at Il menù della poesia, strongly disagrees with that. “Our activity began 10 years ago, when actor Marco Bonadei created this project. We are now a group of 23 people with the common aim to spread literature, poetry and theatre wherever there is conviviality – mainly in pubs and restaurants, but also in service stations on the motorway and once even in Paris at the Italian Embassy during the Italian Cuisine Week. We dress as waiters and propose “food for your soul”. You can choose one “dish” and we will “serve” it to you. We really wanted to do something useful while respecting our identity, so we decided to launch a charity initiative called “Contagi (di)versi” (an Italian play on words meaning both “different contagions” and “poetry epidemic”). Everyday, we publish a different menu on social media, and people can “order” their “poetry dish” via the phone. Revenues will be directed to Ospedale Papa Giovanni XXIII, the main hospital of Bergamo, one of the most affected cities in the country and in Europe. So far, in a couple weeks we collected €5000, and our first aim to reach €7000.” Il menù della poesia currently performs in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Polish. 

Il Menu della Poesia

Donate to Associazione Culturale Il Menu della Poesia, IBAN: IT18L0306909606100000157367, Reason: “Donazione supporto emergenza Covid-19”

The discussion was very rich and some key points strongly emerged: 

  • cultural workers, due to the strong precarisation within the sector for years, need a strong social security to protect them; 
  • Solidarity funds needs to be activated in order to support especially those smaller cultural organizations that make the social tissue vibrant, an example being the one promoted by the European Cultural Foundation;
  • Cultural centres, at least those operating in public properties, should have a rent freeze in these months of inactivity;
  • Running programs and funds for cultural programs should be made flexible in order to support the planned activities after the end of the current crisis;
  • The cultural sector is responding in many constructive ways to the current emergency, as in the case of the Menù della Poesia, and more public visibility should be ensured to these valid initiatives.