Crowdfunding arrives at the Venice Biennial

This occurred with Vice Versa from Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, the first cultural and institutional experience of online fundraising from the private sector and ordinary people.

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Crowdfunding has disembarked at the Venice Biennial. Who would have thought it, that crowdfunding would have accompanied an institutional cultural project to the most important international showcase organised by the Heritage Ministry? But Italy can be quite surprising in this area also. All you need is an enlightened mind like that of Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, art critic, director of the Macro (Contemporary art museum in Rome) and curator of “Vice Versa”, the exhibition at the Italian Pavilion at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennial that, having opened to international experiences like that of the Louvre Tous Mécènes or Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum in the United States, has organised an appeal on the internet for the exhibition that will be inaugurated on May 30th in Venice. Five categories of donations, from believers with a budget of 5 euros up to 10 thousand euros for patrons, and then paladins who donated 5 thousand euros, partners who gave 2,500, supporters 1,000, friends 300 and fans 80 euros.

Tips for buying; the crowdfunding is still open, until May 12th.

How much have you collected?

We have done much better than we had hoped; I had fixed a first level of satisfaction at 50 thousand euros, but today, with just 9 days left until the collection closes, we have reached 110 thousand euros. This is a great result that has allowed us to implement the project that was in serious difficulty. The amount collected goes to support the work of the artists, the promotion and organisation of the exhibition and a final convention. But above all, the result is a very important indication of the spirit of participation, and I am not referring just to an economic aspect, which was certainly crucial, but more to a truly cultural indication that private citizens are participating once again in public matters. State intervention is essential, but these tools can function extremely well in art, as long as there is a clear relationship between the government and the public, that the application is clear, easy, understandable, like we did for Vice Versa, and if it is like this, the response arrives.

How many people supported the crowdfunding?

As of today, about 130 people have participated, 90% of whom are Italian, and obviously believers is the the largest category with a small donation, but followed immediately by nine patrons who donated 10 thousand euros. These included representatives from all over Italy and I was really pleased with this this geographical diversification because it means that there are no territorial distinctions and that art is still a cultural and social unifier. Among the patrons, to name just a few, were the Maccaferri of Bologna, the Bulgari of Rome, the Valsecchi, the Olgiati from Switzerland, the Viglietta from Turin. All donors will will obviously be given some rewards. Their names will be published at the entrance to the Italian Pavilion and in the catalogues, and the benefits will be different for each donation category. The paladins, for example, in addition to other benefits will be granted an exclusive preview, a dinner with the curator and the 14 artists and they will receive limited prints and editions. All the categories will be thanked in different ways.

Will you repeat the Crowdfunding experience at the macro in Rome?

Absolutely. This initiative for the Biennial came from my experience as director of the Macro and from the project that we are conducting in these spaces with the “Friends of Macro”, a club of private supporters, art lovers, who pay from 3 to 5 thousand euros to help the museum and help spread contemporary art in Rome. Now I will think about how to extend crowdfunding to other future projects. In any event, I think that also the next curators of the Venice Biennial and other institutional cultural projects will have to propose and repeat the online initiative. Because, I repeat, it is not just a question of economics but rather a question of social and cultural participation that would relaunch our country and its private equity. Contemporary art in Italy, in fact, gets less attention from the State given the vast cultural heritage that we have, and so public participation can make all the difference, as always.

What is Vice Versa?

The exhibition comes from this idea of taking a journey through art, putting together various generations of artists who dialogue with each other through their work. I divided the Italian Pavilion into seven areas, six indoors and one outside, the garden of the Virgins. It is a very sensory journey between diverse media and in every are a there are two artists who confront each other through their work, almost all great work. I would say that more than an exhibition it is an experience. Twelve works were created especially for the Biennial and the artists invited were: Francesco Arena, Massimo Bartolini, Gianfranco Baruchello, Elisabetta Benassi, Flavio Favelli, Luigi Ghirri, Piero Golia, Marcello Maloberti, Francesca Grilli, Fabio Mauri, Giulio Paolini, Marco Tirelli, Luca Vitone, Sislej Xhafa.