Minister promises to tighten up on mega-ads
On 4 October, the Italian Minister of Culture, Sandro Bondi, issued the
following statement in reaction to the Venice in Peril petition to disallow the
use of advertisements on historic buildings.
"The advertisements in Venice that have been discussed in the media in the last
few days are necessary to make up for the limited resources available for the
restoration of historic buildings. Involving private enterprise [in the
protection] of our artistic heritage is positive and irreplaceable. " Bondi
went on to say that the such advertisements "are regulated by the law governing
the cultural assets and landscape of Italy and in each case are the product of
the judgement of the local superintendent, who has the difficult task of
interpreting local sensibilities." Taking account, however, of "the
importance of this subject and of the appeals coming also from abroad", the
minister has asked the ministry's secretary general [Roberto Cecchi] "to
draw up more consistent and appropriate criteria so that the advertisements on
historic buildings become more visually acceptable and stay up for
shorter periods of time, while still allowing the system of sponsorship
to continue. "
The petition was in reaction to the proliferation of huge advertisements, now
also lit up at night, on the façades of major buildings in Venice.
It was signed by the architect Norman Foster ; Mark Jones,
director, Victoria & Albert Museum; Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of
Modern Art, New York; Neil MacGregor, director, British Museum; Lars Nittve,
director, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Mikhail Piotrovsky, director, The
Hermitage, St Petersburg: Malcolm Rogers, director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
and Martin Roth, general director, Dresden State Museums. It was widely
reported in the Italian and international media.
In the local newspapers, The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, condemned
the signers of the petition as stupid and not understanding the needs of
Venice, as treating the Venetians as though they were "savages with rings in
their noses", and he said, "If people want to see the building [Bridge of Sighs]
they should go home and look at a picture of it in a book."
The chairman of Venice in Peril, Anna Somers Cocks, responded in the Gazzettino
newspaper that the petitioners were well aware of the financial situation,
which dependS on central government, not the town council; that they were among
the countless people around the world who love Venice and wish that its
protection were a priority with Italian government, which is clearly not the
case at the moment, and
that the mayor might think of channelling international opinion to
support his case with the Italian Treasury.