Heritage Italy

All change at the top of Italy’s cultural administration

Roberto Cecchi named as the new secretary general for heritage as nine high-ranking superintendents retire

london. It is all change in Italy’s state administration of what it calls its “cultural assets”, the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, or MIBAC for short. Not only are nine high-ranking superintendents retiring [superintendents are the officials responsible for the state museums such as the Uffizi, for buildings such as the Coliseum, for archaeology and archives and conservation institutes, not to mention the much abused Italian landscape], but its top civil servant, Giuseppe Proietti, is also leaving. In a country where cultural life is deeply politicised, where career moves in the civil service depend on government whim to an extent that is unimaginable in the UK or US, the new secretary general is a Florentine, Roberto Cecchi (b. 1949).

The reaction nonetheless has been that the right man has been appointed. Cecchi trained as a conservation architect and entered the superintendency for architecture in 1980. From 1997 to 2001 he had responsibility for the “environmental and architectural assets” of Venice, a diplomatically challenging job that he discharged with energy, subtlety and pragmatism. Thereafter he returned to the ministry in Rome to head one of its directorate-generals.

His priority now will be to provide new leadership for the superintendency network, currently suffering from depleted manpower, absurdly restrictive regulations, inadequate funding and a government that has repeatedly shown little respect for the cadre. He will also have to prove that he can collaborate with Mario Resca, the government’s specially appointed director-general for “valorizzazione” of the artistic treasures of Italy, a term that should mean “making the most of”, but which some Italian politicians today think means “squeeze for the maximum profit possible”.

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