Rome, 17-18 May 2014

Rome welcomes the PACE teams with sunny days and a programme of sessions designed around a tour in the city, crossing generations, working models, artistic areas and private and public agents. The idea is to get a closer picture of the ways being found not only to make sense with the performing arts in a crisis situation but also to build a new economy for the arts.

[]


1 - Going Out

DSC00129

We travel to the Quarticciolo area, a long way from the center of the city, just where the tram line ends. And we get to know the project of the Teatro Quarticciolo, one of several public venues  working in a circle far away from the centre. In the meeting we get to know not only the director of the Quarticciolo (Mariano Grimaldi) but also the Director of Teatro Villa Torlona (Filippo d'Alessio) another member of this network. And although the Teatro Quarticciolo is public, the management is private, and this in an Italian context in which the discussion about the pros and counters of private managment are being discussed with lots of energy, within the traditional division of left and right wing parties.

Besides the performances, the Quarticciolo is engaged in strong activities to envolve the local community, always keeping social prices, in order to keep an open door to a population with severe social and economic problems (drugs, unemployment, crime). One of the strategies is to open the theatre to local based projects, inviting them to present themselves on stage. Trying to transform the theatre in another “public square” in the neighbourhood.

And of course this demands a very personal relationship between the theatre and the local community, really a close and personal one. The same goes with the relations with schools – there are about 20m walking distance.

But at the same time the venue gives lots of attention to the younger Roman artists and is even able to catch the attention of audiences travelling from the centre of Rome. So the options are a mix between popular performances and experimental theatre, with the first one creating a frame and the second one breaking it slowly. So the Quarticciolo seems to move in a very well defined path, somewhere between the hype that excites critics and audiences from the center, and social practices that can make a real difference in the life of the local community. All this in an intelligent mix devised upon the experience and direct knowledge of the community. And let’s not forget that this project was born precisely one year before the financial crisis of 2008. We can say crisis is its middle name.


2 - Going Off

We now have the chance to know Teatro Argot, a Off venue created during the 80s that seems to be trying to find a new meaning to being Off. 

The Off still presents itsself as an alternative to the mainstream speach. Of course this alternative is no longer the “fiction of the 90s” (alternative to the soap operas) because the fiction is now the mainstream in TV. But the social function is the same. And even here, in the centre of Rome, the ideia of building a “public square” - like in Quarticciolo – seems to make sense.

The Director of the Argot, Tiziano Panici, still thinks the Off can not find a market solution and depends on the existence of an industry that enables the artists to be paid outside the organization, by selling the same technics required by the artistic projects in Argot.Tiziano is also a member of Cresco (an association of theatre artists and other workers).

DSC00164

But even so the Argot is seeking for new solutions that can be found in separate ways. For instance, giving up the naive desire of institutionalisation, so that the ressources can be distributed directly to the artists (this means small organization operating in a thin line between legal and not legal). But on the other hand, developing new solutions to save ressources, reach the audiences and promote the brand (yes, although not completely legal, the off talks like a markteer).


And a good example is the project Dominio Publico in which Argot joins Teatro Dell' Orolgio in a joined venture between two off venues, now sharing an annual season and many ressources such as promotion, marketing and press releases. This makes the off more representative and that means being more closer to power, to the people making decisions regarding cultural policy, citizenship and territory.

So, this is the off giving up the teenage days (at least until a certain point), and starting to lobby to divert the public investment from the more institutional and conservative theatre to the small off stages and teams. The off is not trying to go inside but is trying to make friends within (for instance when associating its self with public institutions that dont support it as much as that... not yet). And it's the second time – it also happened in Quarticciolo – that we haear about the importance of “friendship” between artists and polititians.

DSC00176


3 - Going Down

And for a last but so powerfull moment, we go to Cinecittá, once the center of a golden age in Italian cinema. Today a very strange mix between a cinema studio still in action and a fun park, a tourist attraction that seems to be trying to justify itself as a “monument” of public interest in Rome. And so demanding too for some public investment ? Not anymore for the sake of the cinema but for the sake of tourism ? But will there be someone to visit it when the memory of the Italian cinema dies among the younger generations ? Undoubtedly, one of the most powerful experiences in all the PACE sessions trying to approach solutions on how to deal with a crisis situation. Because in Cinecittá the crisis becomes plain and clear in every one of the empty and enormous buildings we passed by. 

DSC00202


Touring along Rome, along this 3 different paths facing a crisis situation – and talking to some of the main actors involved – gave all the teams the chance to return home with many questions, just like in the previous PACE sessions. But it seems that now we are also returning with answers. Different ones, of course, considering the differences among our national contexts. But answers anyway.

DSC00213
DSC00237


We leave Rome with a song. See you all in Sweeden!

 



© Pace-europa.org 2012-2014