Today on La Bella Europa we’re talking about a wonderful grant-supported project that recently achieved EU funding in Emilia Romagna.
The project is called “Rio” and its objective is to achieve the reconstruction of identities through photography, through the enhancement of the new edition of the SYPHONEST, Savignano Immagini Festival, Festival della Fotografia, was created in 1992 and this year, the twenty-seventh edition (!) will take place from 14 to 30 September in Savignano sul Rubicone (FC), Romagna.
The SIFEST Savignano Immagini Festival is one of the most long-lasting and established festivals of photography and visual communication in Italy and enjoys international recognition. It offers national previews of premium photography exhibitions, direct productions of photographic campaigns created locally and is open to young emerging photographers.
It also incorporates a rich calendar of activities: meetings, workshops, competitions, prizes, portfolio readings, specialist publishing and special events. SIFEST OFF, an event intended to provide space for new photographic talent has been a regular since 2009 and has become a reference point for more than a hundred photographers and creators from all parts of Italy and from overseas.
Video presentation of the 2018 edition of SIFEST:
To find out more about the Rio Project and have a look backstage, we interviewed Maura Pazzaglia, Councillor for Culture for Savignano sul Rubicone, the local authority leading the project.
Savignano sul Rubicone is a municipality in Emilia Romagna in the province of Forlì-Cesena, with around 18,000 inhabitants.
The Rio Project obtained funding of almost €200,000 for a total estimated outlay of €333,150 with 60% EU co-financing as envisaged by the Creative Europe, Culture sub-programme.
How did the project idea come about?
“In agreement with my offices I decided in 2017, following an expression of interest, to identify a design studio that would support us in finding European funds. The project was realised via cooperation between the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Savignano and the project managers at InEuropa
We started a training course for employees and after a few months of investigation, we focused on a project idea born from our city’s needs, to enhance its cultural heritage by allowing its citizens to benefit from it permanently.
In today’s society, there is no vehicle as effective as photography for being a means for expressing ourselves and our ideas. Being a unique method for expressing ideas, perspectives and personal reflections, photography today can be fully understood as an active energy for the communication of opinions, questions, feelings and wishes, even without using words.
With the advent and worldwide spread of digital technology, it has become a tool and a language available to everyone. It offers a language for learning, knowledge, interpretation, communication and transforming reality. A language that creators, professionals, enthusiasts and followers of the medium, teachers and pupils of specialist schools can participate in, master, use and convey, while for the majority of people it remains a mere tool of occasional and trivial reproduction. Photography lacks that which for other artistic expressions, has become practically everyday, i.e. the aspect of creativity that is fundamental for acquiring the practice of language and its conscious and creative use.
Small and medium scale urban scenarios such as Savignano sul Rubicone are currently penalised and pushed aside by major centres with greater power to attract tourists and visitors from other regions and from overseas. While having a well-rooted history and traditions, they are not able to provide the same draw without occasional events that are supported, communicated and promoted with great and tireless energy.
This is causing a gradual but rapid loss of local cultural identity. Small towns are places where the inhabitants tend to ease their way through a repetitive daily life, as there are few significant activities, and young people seek other places that can offer greater cultural, social and working opportunities.
Cultural and creative associations, such as those that organise photographic festivals in partner cities, are isolated and disconnected from the larger centres from which they could draw valuable and relevant insights.
Multiculturalism is still and often seen as a problem, given that new people with different cultures and languages do not easily interact within small, local contexts. The local residents remain, the outsiders (new arrivals, such as immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees) do not always appear to appreciate the new destination and live in small groups on the margins, making communication and dialogue even more difficult and complex.
The knowledge of local cultural heritage is not sufficiently widespread and conveyed to the outside world. It cannot be easily communicated to new arrivals because of the lack of adequate funding, means and cultural and promotional strategies.
The project objectives are in line with the priorities of the programme and with the scope of the specific actions of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018:
What results are you expecting from this project?
The project’s expected results are fundamentally reinforcement and revitalisation of local community identities and the acquisition of greater skills and knowledge in the field of photography by a large proportion of the public, which may also enable industry professionals to act on a more international scale.
We hope to create a connection and international aspect of small and medium photography festivals and to diversify the public interested in photography, to stimulate the young people involved, whether resident or new arrivals, to reimagine and reinvent the local context, contributing to cultural and creative activities, while at the same time, we want to create an opportunity for the integration of new arrivals in local communities using photography as a common language.
Your feelings about the project?
I think that the project represents the story of a festival that, despite its long run of 27 years, is still able to reinvent and renew itself by offering the city the fruits of important work carried out over the years, helping it via the medium of photography to reconstruct its identity. In times of crisis, like those we are experiencing today, I think it is essential to use culture as a calling card.
What you think about the EU funds and how are they used in your area?
I think that the EU funds are an essential resource for the entire country, not only for the territory, a territory that over the years as worked hard in this direction – just look at the worthy examples of the municipalities of Cesena and Atrium in Forlì. I think that these results can demonstrate that Europe is not just a source of bureaucracy to escape from, or something upon which we can pin the blame for our limitations, but an essential opportunity from which we can rebuild, by demonstrating determination and credibility.
We are thankful to the Councillor for her time, and we hope that this project can be another step towards awareness of what the European Union can do to enhance and improve territories.
To stay updated on the SIFEST of Savignano sul Rubicone: