Performing Heritage and Culture 3.0 in practice: the Siena 2019 experience

Culture 3.0 and Performing Heritage are the main concepts of Siena candidacy project as 2019 European Capital of Culture. Here’s an overview on this new landscape (and the chances to going deep, of course!).

A new vision, new directions
We need fresh cultural inputs to fuel a new wave of intangible civic heritage, so as to redesign Siena’s economic and social assets, by planting three seeds of change to
overcome the threats:
Culture, health, and happiness – innovating in what makes life worth living and satisfactory, and envisaging the new horizons of care and caring in everyday community
practice;
Culture and social (in)justice – innovating in how communities overcome exclusion and conflict, and sharing the many forms of the common good;
Culture and smart tourism – innovating in how permanent and non-permanent residents exchange experiences, and exploring how they are reshaped by digital societies.

Performing Heritage and Siena
Performing heritage rejuvenates the city The Siena 2019 concept focuses on performing heritage as a platform for learning and social innovation. Heritage is socially alive, enacted by the community, and its components are in symbiotic relationship – as illustrated by the Costituto Senese and its iconic counterpart, Lorenzetti’s Good and Bad Government. The Sienese bias for intangible cultural heritage as the driver of social and economic change is an ideal point of departure to use community-wide cultural participation to rejuvenate the city and kick off a new cycle.
It works if it is for everybody Heritage itself is exposed to powerful evolutionary forces. Today, the very distinction between producers and users has blurred with the diffusion of digital techniques, and the explosive growth of specialised social media. Everybody is potentially contributing to contemporary heritage. For instance, 10% of all of the photographs ever taken has been shot in 2012, and even if just a tiny fraction would be of any interest, mapping it out critically depends on the social coordination of users. The legacy of Siena 2019 is about transforming the contemporary notion of heritage – making it economically and politically relevant, visible, and deeply ingrained in European culture. Our ECoC programme will be an experimental playground for Europe to appreciate how heritage can be a source of comparative advantage in the global quest for creativity and innovation. The unique social environment of the Sienese culture of citizenry provides an appropriate context to challenge established certainties about heritage. But this implies our firm commitment to think of heritage in terms of its transformational modes, functions, and implications.

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Premise and Horizons: Heritage 3.0
Heritage 3.0 as a concept is already at work in the phase of cultural history we have entered. It relates to its predecessors as follows:

  • Heritage 1.0 is based on the idea of (public) patronage, it is about treasuring the assets from the past and finding subsidies to support its survival. It is about consigning things to eternity and is product of the creative genius of the Old Masters.
  • Heritage 2.0 is about cultural and creative industries, to make heritage assets as profitable as possible and to capitalise over it. Heritage assets should ideally become entertainment machines. It is the product of the Creatives (Creative Class).
  • Heritage 3.0 is about shared production of meaning and about open communities of practice. Its sustainability is through crowdsourcing and it is about performing it, that is, making it live through the social practice. It is the product of Everybody.

This vision of cultural history allows for a new performing of culture and heritage that functions as follows: rather than describing what it is, our goal is to put our concept of Heritage 3.0 into practice, a bit like staging a theatre play or playing a musical composition – then, it starts to work as an approach to cultural heritage based on the idea that the consumer of our heritage is also the one who re-produces it, bringing it to life and giving it a new, contextual meaning; this prosumer attitude is not only the way to keep our old heritage alive but it also acts as a cultural model of the future; the distinction between producing and consuming is blurred, funding and distribution happen in collective ways and the genius of an individual author is replaced by the intelligence of crowds. Thus our concept Heritage 3.0 is just as relevant to our heritage of tomorrow as it is to cultural treasures of the past.

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The semantic meaning
Heritage 3.0
communicates the key messages we want to be associated with: we call it heritage rather than culture because the word heritage implies a temporality and a transmission. The extension 3.0, although derived from software terminology, does not mean at all that our concept is only about the digital – rather it is an approach to heritage that wants to bring our old heritage alive again, both online and offline, and embrace new heritage through the open-minded prosumer attitude that implies interaction, exchange and circulation both in digital and analogic ways.

The concept of Heritage 3.0 is therefore embedded in a narrative closely connected to the symbolism of the city. We know we can only accomplish our goals if we work together with great passion and togetherness, like we do when preparing many of the civic events in our city and region. Social innovation starts with interaction and exchange. That is why our concept Heritage 3.0 works so well: it refers to such notions and implies a dynamic approach to heritage and culture; moreover, it explicitly connects to Siena’s past but at the same time it is future-oriented, as marked by the extension 3.0. It therefore enables true innovation while also connecting this renewal to the existing identity of the city.

The Heritage 3.0 framework
• Heritage 1.0 (Conservation): Preserving ‘stones’ is the priority, Heritage is for connoisseurs;
• Heritage 2.0 (Entertainment machines): Attracting people and making profit is the priority, Heritage is for customers;
• Heritage 3.0 (Community sensemaking): Involving everybody in the production, circulation and conservation of culture is the priority, Heritage is made, preserved and enjoyed by the community.

The nature of the challenge
• Changes in the demarcation of heritage
• Changes in the production of heritage
• Changes in the preservation of heritage
• Changes in the transmission of heritage

heritage-3-0-canvas-by-pier-luigi-sacco
Heritage 3.0 canvas by Pier Luigi Sacco

Insights

Read the whole Siena 2019 bid for the first round clicking here.

Read the whole Siena 2019 final bid clicking here.

Main Photo Credits (Creative Commons): click here.

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