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Businesses creating culture

A degree dissertation presented at Venice’s Cà Foscari university makes a detailed analysis of the relationship between production culture and culture in general. 

Good business also creates culture. And, if necessary, it sustains it. This practice has evolved over time, echoing the evolving conception of business and business people. The notion of production organisations which, to their credit, have become known for their patronage, or who have, at least, played a strong and active role in the cultural life of the system in which they operate. Such behaviour has, by now, become an accepted and widespread practice although not yet fully understood in all its complexities.

In order to make progress in this direction, a dissertation by Erica Francesconi at Venice’s Cà Foscari university -“The relationship between cultural innovation and businesses located in north-east Italy” – may make useful reading. It discusses precisely this relationship between cultural events and the efforts of the businesses studied in a geographical area that is key to Italian industry.  More specifically, the paper looks at links between events, industries and the regional local authority (Veneto).

It explains: “The relationship between private organisations and the cultural sector takes shape through different forms of collaboration, although the most popular one,  nowadays, is patronage: a form of private financing that affords the business patron greater visibility and allows the beneficiaries to dispose of funds with which to run artistic and cultural projects, thereby fulfilling the interests of both parties.”

It is a sharing of interests which are only outwardly different – those of businesses and culture. The relationship between an organisation and a cultural event is therefore approached from a theoretical perspective first, then from a practical one. Numerous cases and forms of collaboration are considered – from the more formal examples of patronage to crowdfunding.  Associations such as C4 (Centro Cultura e Contemporaneo di Caldogno), Atipografia and Illustri have interacted with businesses like Unicredit, Arclinea, Dainese, Deroma, il Gruppo Maltauro, Telwin, Trend Group and also Gruppo Mastrotto, Girolibero and Zeppelin, Burgo Group, Selle Royal and many more.  The essential nature of these collaborations is explored, along with the results, the difficulties encountered and their evolution over time.

The story that emerges is one of wise industries who charm with their desire to generate more than just material wealth.

Enrica Francesconi’s thesis is an excellent way to explore the alchemy that exists in the relationship between business and culture, between those who, in economic parlance, should only be thinking of their bottom line, and others who concern themselves with more than just posting a profit.

The relationship between cultural innovation and businesses in the north-east of Italy.

Erica Francesconi

Master Degree in Economics and Management of the Arts and Cultural Activities, Cà Foscari University, Venice, 2015