WHAT WAS GOING ON AROUND THE WORLD
Spring 2011: Europe and the whole mediterranean area are in turmoil.
The act of occupying takes place and moves from the north-african cities to the spanish squares of the Indignados through the neighbourhoods in flames in Athens up to the USA’s #occupy movements. These bodies don’t get in contact, but breathe and live the same pure vibration. Different contexts, different goals and attitudes, activate, almost at the same time, similar practices. All these global movements reaffirm the act of occupying giving to it a new meaning: we overridethe purelynegativeprotest andunfurlthe powerofconstituentpracticesclaiming for sovereignty.
HERE: ITALY, ROME
Empty and useless theaters, divided by labels, categories, and targets of audiences. Festivals in agony, awful redistribution of public funds, suspension of public organisms considered useless(ETI), strikes on Monday (the day “off” for most part of the workers of art and entertainment
and culture), excise duties on petrol (apparently to increase culture, in reality to enhance war investments) . Actors without allowances and unemployment benefits, stable theaters with budget shortfalls, directors chosen because we are appreciated by the mother of the mayor (as in our case in Rome!). A lot of respect for the copyright protection (in Italy we have the only monopole in all Europe for that: the SIAE), but no respect for knowledge, for the workers, for the intelligence of the audience. Bureaucrats firmly there, stuck in their places, artists without money. Increasing politics of The Great Event opposite aTheatre of Misery.
There’s no epic, no cruelty, there’s no Dionysus.
And so, once upon a time, one day, a theater born in 1727 was occupied to implement a “cultural revolt”.
On 14 June, the day after Italian citizens, voting in a referendum, said a decisive NO to water privatization, nuclear development and legal immunity for acting government officials, a wide group of protestors seized the Teatro Valle, which could have been turned over to be privatized. The Teatro Valle is the Rome’s oldest theater, one of the many cultural institutions facing difficulties.
The day after the victory of the referendum for water as a common good, voted by 27 millions of italians, on the ancient façade of the theatre designed by Valadier, appeared a long piece of cloth with written on: LIKE WATER, LIKE AIR, LET’S RECLAIM CULTURE!
The invasion of the Valley becomes a device where art and politics, poetics and different urgencies gather around the Rome’s oldest theatre still operating. The theater of Mozart and Rossini, the stage that hosted the premiere of “Six characters looking for an author” by Pirandello and a huge number of contemporary plays in the last years.
A community gives life to a space activating a constituent process through the participation of an active citizenship, creating a non hierarchic horizontal rhizomatic attitude of decision making. The link between culture, art and political practices is created every day. The Valle Theater becomes a model and arises in other cities with similar experiences in Italy.
After six months, after raids in theaters and symbolic occupations, theworkers in the arts and culture occupied Teatro Valle. Workers in film production, theater, dance, technicians, operators, employers, precarious and intermittent, for several months waged a direct and self-organized fight for their rights and against the cuts of public financing in culture.
We occupied the Teatro Valle to save it from an uncertain future. The occupiers have issued an appeal signed by over 8000 people. Citizens, artists, professionals, workers, people of Italian and international culture, gave life to the Teatro Valle Occupato, that has emerged as a venue with a strong symbolic value at a national level, a place to share ideas and experiences, a place to elaborate together a political and critical thought, according to a choice of active citizenship.
We are interested in commons, mutualism, co-working and we would like to base all the actions on the quality of relationships. We believe in a world built on bottom up quality processes and we are very interested international collaborations.
THE FUTURE WE RECLAIM
Our goal is to transform the Teatro Valle in a Foundation of commons.
The Foundation Teatro Valle as Commons is an economic and juridic alternative model based on the self-government of the workers of art and culture and the citizens and on a direct democratic system. The principal vocation of the theatre is to be always open and alive and to offer a wide permanent education for professionals and for the citizens as a contemporary agora.
Regarding the artistic vocation of Teatro Valle, we think it should be a center devoted to the italian contemporary playwriting and stage writings.
After the 14th of June the defensive attitude transformed itself in a performative constituent act: public assemblies, self-education processes, multidisciplinary approaches.
Internationally known and appreciated jurists as Ugo Mattei and Stefano Rodotà contributed to write the Statute of the Fondazione Teatro Valle Bene Comune.
The occupants are aware of the present economical and financial difficulties of the country and, precisely for this reason, we believe that the situation should be faced not with a blind policy of cuts, but with forward-looking projects aiming to reduce waste and to enhance the artistic talents which are a key resource for the country.
A renewed future for Teatro Valle would be a major starting point for everybody, ushering a new season of Italian cultural policy resetting art, knowledge and creativity as the center of the social system. Radical reforms capable of ensuring efficiency and autonomy in the public management, would allow virtuous actions of the private and would restore dignity to the professionals of this industry with specific laws recognising their rights.
We are imagining and practicing new forms of ethical management able to provide the possibility of a plural artistic direction with the guarantee of a turn-over; an “ecological” principle ensuring a balanced distribution of resources between small and large productions, for training and hospitality; fairness in pay - reduction of the gap between the minimum and maximum-, a price policy accessible and progressive; boards for independent monitoring, transparency and readability of financial statements published on the web, developing a code of ethics, as model for all theaters and companies.
STATUTE OF TEATRO VALLE BENE COMUNE
On June 14th 2011, the day after a referendum victory in Italy, which prevented the privatization of water in favour of it becoming a ‘common good’, we occupied Teatro Valle – Rome’s oldest functioning theatre – returning it to the community. In so doing we have undertaken a process aimed towards the legal recognition of Teatro Valle as a ‘Common': i.e. a common ‘land’ or entity, owned by all. The right to declare something as a ‘Common’ is enshrined in article 43 of Italy’s constitution.
We have taken care of and given new life to Teatro Valle not only to defend it for the benefit of everybody, but also in order to pursue a constitutional process, which will define ‘culture’ as a Common. A process that can spread and be applied to any public area, inspiring a profound transformation in our behaviour and thinking regarding property.
The right to commonly owned goods and cultural phenomena are an inheritance of the historical desire for emancipation and self-determination. We want to channel a transformation process which aims to supercede the law as a mere bureaucratic form across the world. It is as a development and continuation of this historical process that the Commons – signifying ownership by all – are invoked at a constitutional, legislative and judicial level.
The ‘Commons’ are not a given in themselves. They emerge through a shared act, as the result of social relationships. The Commons develop out of a grass roots approach, from the active and direct participation of individual subjects. The Commons self-organizes itself and defends its independence both from private interests and from public institutions which otherwise govern public interests with an authoritarian and individuaslitic logic.
We aim to work with all other communities who aim for the preservation of the Commons, wherever they may be. We envisage new institutions – participatory, ecological, preeminent, mindful of the creativity of all.
The Commons are a new legal category, independent from ownership, directly linked to the values enshrined in the Constitution, which developed from the Italian Resistance, but which are continually betrayed by public and private oligarchies.
We declare, starting from Teatro Valle, that the Commons have to be taken away from private interests, because they belong to all; that is, humanity as a whole.
We want to demonstrate, starting from Teatro Valle, that a public body which seeks to privatize the Commons betrays its constitutional mandate. Occupation is a justified response in light of the Italian Constitution.
We therefore proclaim Teatro Valle as a fully-fledged Common. It is inextricably linked with culture – a fundamental right for every person – and as such must be part of a larger project involving cultural workers and all people.
WHAT DO WE DO:
We have set up artistic residenciesin whichwe asked theartiststo inventnewforms of education, to open up for the audiences thecreative processes, invitingotherartists, contaminatinglanguages.
The theatre promotesformsof encounterbetween the artsand creates opportunities forinterdisciplinary ensemblesthroughassemblies, informal meetingsand through the
international networksbuilt in these recent monthsof activity.
We organize: plays and performances, festivals of independent theatre in and outside the theatre, children workshops, we reflect together on the cultural politics, projections of independent movie which otherwise wouldn’t find any distribution.
Every dayfrom the 14th ofJune2011 we kept the theatre open, organized the cultural program, promoted meetings and co working sessions with many theatrical, academic and scientific institutions on a national and international level, supported and enhanced the fights for commons on a national spread level.
NATIONAL RELATIONS: THE NETWORK
After the Cinema Palazzo (www.nuovocinemapalazzo.it) and the Valle, the occupy culture movement increased and became contageous, the Coppola Theatre of Catania (www.teatrocoppola.it), the Garibaldi Theatre (www.teatrogaribaldiaperto.com), the collective of the Balena of Naples with the Asilo della creatività e della conoscenza (labalena.wordpress.com), Macao in Milan (www.macao.mi.it) and the already existing S.A.L.E. Docks in Venice (www.saledocks.org), are all experimenting innovative models of daily bottom up productions.
We had the support of prestigious European institutions such as the union of the Greek artists, the Schaubühne Berlin, the Royal Court in London, the Theatre du Soleil Arianne Mnouchkine (http://www.teatrovalleoccupato.it/?s=mnouchkine&submit.x=0&submit.y=0 ), the Theatres of Europe ( , the Berlin Biennale (www.solidarityaction.istitutosvizzero.it, www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/).We are working continuously with cultural institutes in Italy such as the French Academy of Villa Medici and the Swiss Institute of Culture (http://www.solidarityaction.istitutosvizzero.it/?p=795&lang=en), we are collaborating with, among the others, with the Goethe Institut (see attachments) and we are part of international networks such as European Alternatives ( www.euroalter.com ).
We participated recently to a euro-mediterranean meeting in Luxembourg:
We created several evenings on the Arab Spring and therefore strong relationships were born.
user-generated videos from Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya
An evening dedicated to the Arab riots have spread to show how the information and how creativity has contributed to the involvement of the masses becoming a weapon that operates on the imaginary, art and culture.
Foto di Maggie Osama, licence Creative Commons BY NC SA
Creative Revolutions is a window on creativity springs emerged from the Arabic web. Cartoons, music videos, news satire, soap opera, all in pills created by young Egyptians, Tunisians, Jordanians, Syrians, and spread virally through social networks. Creative Revolutions is a look at a new Arab generation, one that in 2011 this is taken to the streets and took over its future. It is shooting also its creativity, telecamerine armed, mobile, and computers, beginning to tell “his” story. Creative Revolutions is a brief glimpse of this history and this creativity that go back day after day, in the Arab street and the web.
From the 14th of june 2011 to the 14 of june 2012
•17 artistic residencies
•1040 hours of professional education
•25thousands people signing our appeal
•oltre 41thousands Facebook contacts
•11thousands followers on twitter
•50 guided visits
•1500 visiorsi (citizens and scolastic projects)
•120thousands euros collected for the Foundation
•Premio UBU for the Best innovation in theatre
SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT SUPPORTED US DURING THE LAST YEAR
Palestine Youth Orchestra, Peter Stein, Anatoly Vasiliev, Marco Baliani, Maddalena Crippa, Elio Germano, Franca Valeri, Andrea
Camilleri, Luigi Lo Cascio, Antonio Rezza e Flavia Mastrella, Fabrizio Gifuni, Valerio Mastandrea, Laura Morante,
Sergio Castellitto, Pietro Sermonti, Fausto Paravidino, Giorgio Tirabassi, Gabriele Vacis, Paolo Rossi, Alessandro
Bergonzoni, Dario Fo e Franca Rame, Elisabetta Pozzi, Filippo Timi, Pippo Delbono, Alessandro Boni, Emma
Dante, Moni Ovadia, Giorgio Agamben, Elio De Capitani, Lillo e Greg, Renzo Arbore, Marlene Kuntz,
Subsonica, Teatro degli Orrori, Niccolò Fabi, Vinicio Capossela, Dente, Jovanotti, Stefano Bollani, Simone
Cristicchi, Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, Marco Mengoni, Fiorella Mannoia, Paola Turci, Marina Rei, Giovanni
Sollima, Tete de Bois, Ivano De Matteo, Pietro Marcello, Nanni Moretti, Marco Bellocchio, Fernando Solanas,
Guido Lombardi, Alessandro Piva, Tony Gatlif.
“The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible”
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