Montag 18.03.24
From: Filippo Armati

A new study by Sébastien Peter* - Cultural Policies in Ticino - for the Zurich Center for Creative Economies at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), was published in January 2024. The aim of this study was to map the sector and highlight the most important historical trends.

Located halfway between German-speaking Switzerland and Lombardy, Ticino is the only canton in Switzerland where Italian is the only official language. The Ticino Cantonal Constitution claims the historic task of representing Italian culture and language at the federal level. This makes culture an important political issue, unique to Switzerland, and serves as a vector for political legitimacy and recognizes an identity with a complex historical legacy. It also makes it possible to understand the concept of "soft power" in the context of a specific linguistic region and local political situation, namely that of a linguistic and cultural minority, and helps to trace its development over the course of cantonal history.

At the time of its foundation in 1803, the canton of Ticino faced considerable tensions, exacerbated by its status as a poor, fragmented and peripheral region. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that a real strategy in the cultural field could be observed at the municipal level in the hope to build a local identity and a competitive position in terms of tourism and the economy. During this period, Ticino was exposed to centrifugal forces. Tensions with German-speaking Switzerland and the rise of fascism in Italy led to the creation of a framework for cultural intervention aimed at enhancing local identity. Cantonal cultural policy was thus conceived as an instrument of "soft power" aimed at the citizens of Ticino, the other cantons, the Confederation and neighboring Italy.

The study shows that this orientation continues to the present day. In an article in the weekly newspaper “La Domenica” from February 4th, 2024, which refers to the study, Sébastien Peter comes to the following conclusion:

"Support instruments for cultural workers, which are mainly located outside the institutional sector, are rare and poorly structured"

and adds:

"After having built up a solid network of cultural institutions in recent decades (....), it should, like the rest of Switzerland, take up a major new cultural challenge to develop clear and structured support for contemporary artists working in the area".

A word of advice to the wise. Hats off to Peter for helping us to better understand the origins of Ticino's cultural policy and the current situation, highlighting its merits, as well as its shortcomings, and proposing solutions.

*Sebastien Peter - is a specialist in cultural promotion with a significant professional background in various cultural promotion organizations in Ticino and Switzerland. He is currently Director of Cultural Services for the City of Locarno.

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