“Art, Heritage and Human Rights” Award

Connecting Cultures Association and ISMU Foundation | Milan


The award is jointly run by Milan-based association Connecting Cultures and Fondazione ISMU/ “Patrimonio e Intercultura” programme, with the support of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities (see below) and under the patronage of the Italian Libraries Association, the Italian Archives National Association and the Italian Committee of the International Council of Museums.


Funding bodies
The award is funded by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities – DG for Landscape, Fine Arts, Contemporary Architecture and Art.


The overarching aim of the “Art, Heritage and Human Rights” Award is to encourage and support creative partnerships between young artists and cultural heritage institutions (museums, libraries and archives) throughout Italy, with a view to developing art projects dealing with the complex issues of integration, exchange and osmosis between cultures.
More in particular, the award is meant to:
• foster cooperation between artists and cultural heritage institutions aimed at promoting dialogue between culturally diverse groups in specific community contexts, thereby generating new relationships and awareness
• through this new synergy, help cultural institutions develop a less self-referential attitude and a more dialogical notion of heritage, and young artists develop projects which are less ephemeral and short-lived
• promote the use of artistic languages and creativity in solving community issues through the active involvement of citizens and institutions
• highlight the importance of building cultural inclusion and empowerment policies right into the  institutional fabric of museums, libraries and archives as a key factor for sustainability and continuity of collaborative practices with artists and local communities.


Target groups
• young artists, designers, film-makers, performers, photographers aged between 18 and 35, living or working in Italy
• cultural institutions (museums, libraries, archives) and/or organisations devoted to the preservation and valorisation of tangible and intangible heritage.


Duration of the project
The first edition was launched in 2010, the second in 2011, the third in 2013, the fourth in 2015.


Project description
“Art, Heritage and Human Rights” was first launched on the occasion of the international conference “Lost in Translation” (Triennale di Milano, 23 February 2010). By comparison with other awards aimed at addressing the issues of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through contemporary art languages, its peculiarity is to focus on heritage as a resource for artists to explore in close cooperation with cultural institutions and local communities, thereby setting it free from its often very rigid association with the concepts of “identity” and “inheritance”.
Every edition is organised in the following  working phases:
• preparing an open call addressed to young artists and heritage institutions
• devising a set of indicators to evaluate and select projects
• creating a jury composed by representatives of project partners, independent curators, artists and museum mediators with a migrant background
• selecting the winner and other projects worthy of recommendation
• disseminating the award’s results through a conference and the websites of Connecting Cultures and “Patrimonio e Intercultura”
• monitoring the progress of the winner’s project.

Over the years, project partners became aware of the need to provide training opportunities for artists and the staff of heritage institutions so as to support them throughout the application process. This led to the organisation of several one-day seminars, including “Art, heritage and human rights”, April 2011; “Art, heritage and interculture. Reflections and investigations on the right to cultural citizenship”, May 2013“Art as dialogue” – 4 November 2013 and 3 December 2013.
The outcomes of the first two editions of the award were also documented in a book published in 2013 (see below).


Winners of the four editions:
• “Out of the Box” (2010 edition) – project partners: “IMPOSSIBLE SITES dans la rue” collective and “Isole” Cultural Association, Palermo and Piana degli Albanesi (Sicily).
• Ex aequo (2011 edition): “Mother Tongue” – project partners: Sara Basta, Mariana Ferratto and the “Dino Penazzato” City Library, Rome – and “Landscape Remix” – project partners: Giulia Casula and MAN – Nuoro Art Museum (Sardinia).
• “TRE TITOLI. A choral film on the city of Cerignola yesterday and today” (2013 edition). Project partners: Nico Angiuli and Casa Di Vittorio, Cerignola (Apulia).

• “Tre tigri contro tre tigri” (2015 edition): project partners: “Giusto il tempo di un tè” artist collective and the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples.


Lessons to be learned
While highlighting the potential of a creative partnership between young artists and cultural heritage institutions, the three editions of the award showed how difficult it still is for them to engage in a real synergy and dialogue. In most applications, museums or libraries were simply conceived as a “location” for the project, rather than a resource to explore in close cooperation with the institution itself and the local community, thereby triggering new insights and awareness.
The actual degree of commitment of mainstream heritage institutions to promoting the cultural participation of “new citizens”, let alone to fostering dialogue and exchange between culturally diverse groups, still looks by and large disappointing.


Publications / other resources
The genesis, working phases and outcomes of the first two editions of the award are documented in the publication Arte, patrimonio e intercultura. Riflessioni e indagini sul diritto alla cittadinanza culturale (ed. by Connecting Cultures, Milan 2013).


Contact details
Connecting Cultures
via Giorgio Merula, 62 – 20142 Milan
tel. ++39.02.89181326
– Anna Detheridge and Laura Riva, project coordinators

Fondazione Ismu/“Patrimonio e Intercultura” programme
via Copernico, 1 – 20125 Milan
– Simona Bodo and Silvia Mascheroni, project coordinators


Project description published in: September 2014

Target Groups

Young artists and cultural heritage institutions, working in partnerships aimed at promoting dialogue between culturally diverse groups in specific community contexts, thereby generating new relationships and awareness