On the 19th and 20th October week we held the third edition of “Rethinking Culture and Creativity workshop” which was part of the scientific program that was taking place this year (2023) on the tenth anniversary of the death of Walter Santagata, a pioneer of the Economics of Culture and for all of us a scientific and life teacher.
The workshop was held at the Campus Luigi Einaudi of the University of Turin and has been co-organised with the Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti de Martiis” and the UNESCO Chair for the Economics of Culture and Heritage.
The first plenary session showed the gathering of famous international economists celebrating Walter not only as a colleague who approached culture with humanity, creativity and an open-minded approach, but a friend, a man with whom it was a pleasure to spend time with, travel and simply discuss walking on the sides of river Po.
Participants came over from all over the world and each of them testify how the working relationship with Walter quickly moved from a professional relationship to a deep friendship based on respect and trust.
The first session was moderated by Gianmaria Ajani, Professor of University of Turin with whom Walter conceived for the first time the concept of a PhD in International Law.
Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director General of UNESCO for Culture from 2010 to 1028 and Special Advisor to the Director-General of ICCROM, in video call from Paris remembered Walter’s work on highlighting the need of research and instruments to support and protect cultural development of territories and communities. Tools and studies he applied were fundamental to the cultural, economic and social development of the communities he worked with. At the same time, his role as an educator was very important: his real desire was to share his knowledge with young researchers. His willingness to support students living in countries in need was the driving force behind his active role in creating, in collaboration with the University of Turin, the Master’s program “World Heritage and Cultural Projects development” that led us to the UNESCO Chair.
Christian Barrère, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne and ISMEA (Paris), celebrated Walter with a touching speech. He shared how he was a passionate individual with a deep knowledge of culture, economics, and attention to local traditions.
He underlined how he had always given a deep value of time passing by and to relevance of keeping in count the relations between local territory and its resources.
He was champion of how culture is research, study, and interest and he left the teaching that the value of understanding the local culture, community and heritage is the base of creativity in all fields.
The second morning session was moderated by Giovanna Segre, Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti De Martiis” of the University of Turin.
Pierre-Jean Benghozi – Director of the Research Centre at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Universitè Paris Saclay, reiterated that Walter was a researcher and a mentor to follow, a man of the world with a new way of looking at it with a deep attention to culture. He shared some key learnings he got from Walter in particular the use of personal interest to feed research’s object and the value of high connections for transmission of knowledge which brought to the creation of Fondazione Santagata and Ebla Fund.
He clearly stated that Walter was not only a researcher, but also an entrepreneur and he provided basis to deal with and illuminate the variety of cultural issues that still inspire today all those approaching the Economics of Culture.
Benghozi highlighted the importance of design and the weight of creativity in national economy. Key to Walter’s approach to research was the understanding of limits of the forms of intellectual property and the role and place of clusters in the culture economy.
Relevance of technology and a new managerial framework to be applied to cultural goods and creative goods, never forgetting new forms of artistic labor and new professions.
The last speech was from David Throsby, Distinguished Professor at Macquarie University, Sydney: which attributed to Walter’s research the new concept of “cultural” value: an asset that embodies, stores, and provides cultural value in addition to whatever economic value it may possess.
He mentioned how culture was defined by the production of idiosyncratic goods based on creativity, culture, and intellectual property. The movie picture industry, the audiovisual sector, the wide field of the industrial design, of the arts & crafts, the museum services, and the eno-gastronomic territorial complexes, all draw inspiration from the cultural link with their own local original community. This strong link with the social environment together with its historic evolution is at the origin of a competitive discriminating advantage because it is accumulation of cultural capital.
Silvana Santero, Honorary President closed the mornings’ session with a thank to all the participants underlining the deep pride that Walter would have had to see his teaching followed, developed, and brought forward by a new generation of experts, professors and young students which were attending the workshop.