The Directorate General for Cultural and Economic Promotion and Innovation was established in 2010 to encourage growing integration among the various components involved with promoting Italy abroad: cultural, economic and scientific.
Italian culture diplomacy embraces a wide range of activities, such as art, film, literature and entertainment, which are integrated with economic diplomacy, the promotion of tourism and sport, the internationalisation of the university system, scientific and technological research and cooperation, the protection of intellectual property, innovation, design and the protection and promotion of food and wine.
This is what is meant by integrated promotion, an approach based on the belief that culture can be a driving force for stimulating growth and allowing Italy to convey a new and dynamic image to the rest of the world. Italy is synonymous with beauty, know-how and quality, inspiring the Vivere all’italiana (Italian Way of Life) programme.
Within the Directorate General, the Deputy Director General for the Promotion of Italian Language and Culture leads and coordinates the culture diplomacy offices, as described below.
Italian schools abroad constitute a network for promoting the Italian language and culture, as well as allowing new generations and citizens of Italian origin to maintain their cultural identity. They help disseminate ideas, projects and initiatives, in conjunction with embassies and consulates and following the priorities defined by Italian foreign policy.
The network of Italian educational institutions abroad includes state and state-authorised schools, Italian sections within foreign schools, language assistantships and courses, and embraces the entire educational cycle: nurseries, primary schools and first and second-grade secondary schools.
Furthermore, the Italian school system boasts the internationally recognised values that are characteristic of the country’s educational principles.
- Italian state and private schools abroad, including examination boards;
- Italian sections within foreign, international and European schools;
- agreements on school matters;
- administration of school staff working abroad and language assistants, from HR management to training, from legal issues and litigation to trade union relations, in agreement with the Directorate General for Resources and Innovation (DGRI);
- administration of staff belonging to the Ministry of Education seconded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- management of state-owned school property;
- contributions to non-state schools, foreign educational bodies and institutions;
- dissemination of cultural initiatives through the network of Italian schools abroad.
Multilateral cultural cooperation
Italy actively works with international institutions and organisations to support multilateral cultural cooperation activities. The regulatory and financial framework for cultural cooperation is made up of Accession Treaties and signed and ratified international conventions, as well as the funds, programmes and projects to which Italy contributes voluntarily.
Italian archaeological missions
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports Italian archaeological, anthropological and ethnological missions abroad, which refer to the period from prehistoric times to medieval times and are geographically spread between the Greek-Roman world to the Near, Middle and Far East, Africa and Latin America.
A commitment to intercultural dialogue and development policies that translates into incredibly important scientific activities and studies; this goes hand in hand with training local operators and transferring technologies in certain sectors, such as archaeology, restoration and the protection of cultural heritage, in which Italian excellence is globally recognised.
Recovering works of art
Italy is among the countries worst affected by the illegal export of cultural and archaeological goods and, over time, it has developed legal, investigative and organisational tools to tackle this phenomenon.
The Ministry liaises constantly with the Committee on the Return of Cultural Goods under the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and for Tourism, the Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Italian diplomatic missions abroad and foreign ones in Italy.
- multilateral cultural cooperation and attending conferences, forums and multilateral organisations in the culture sector;
- Italian National Commission for UNESCO, coordination of Italy’s participation and promotion of candidates for lists dedicated to the protection of the environment and tangible and intangible cultural heritage;
- European culture diplomacy and relations with the European University Institute;
- Italian participation in the EUNIC network;
- Italian archaeological missions abroad, through contributions and promoting cultural cooperation and scientific research activities with both the public and local authorities;
- protecting cultural heritage in crisis situations, recovering works of art smuggled abroad and liaising with the Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.
Promotion of the Italian language
Over two million foreigners choose to study Italian every year, in order to learn more about the country’s rich artistic and cultural heritage, to seize job or business opportunities or simply to savour an aspect of Italian style. Promoting the Italian language throughout the world represents a priority for Italy’s foreign policy and is one of the country’s key tools.
With the Convening for the Italian Language in the world in 2014, the Ministry presented the first ever complete census on the diffusion of Italian teaching abroad; this census was then updated in the following years and today constitutes the most complete set of data regarding the study of Italian abroad. Supporting Italian publishing and books around the world, as well as the subtitling of films, represents an important part of the promotion strategy.
Internationalisation of universities and scholarships
The Ministry promotes the internationalisation of Italy’s higher education system, supporting international cooperation initiatives, facilitating agreements between academic institutions, annually granting scholarships for foreign students and for Italians living in specific countries and facilitating students’ mobility through the diplomatic-consular network.
The Strategic Plan to promote Italy’s higher education system abroad, the general guidelines for which are agreed with the Ministry of University and Research, forms part of a broader integrated promotion project, representing a priority course of action for the dissemination of Italy’s scientific, technological and cultural expertise, both as a tool for diplomacy and as a driving force for the country’s economic development.
The Ministry supports youth exchanges and offers contributions to projects that may apply for this funding through an annual call for proposals; this opportunity is open to projects aimed at creating social-cultural training courses to improve curricula and professional training courses for young Italians and foreigners, both in Italy and abroad. These projects must encourage cultural exchanges, with the aim of allowing the new generations to develop respect, communication and tolerance through mutual knowledge of cultural diversity, also by creating transnational partnerships between two or more entities from different countries.
- initiatives to disseminate the Italian language abroad;
- certification of knowledge of the Italian language;
- value declarations;
- promoting Italian publishing and books abroad, including publicising books, educational and audiovisual material abroad;
- contributions to foreign universities for Italian lectureships and for training and refresher courses for foreign Italian university lecturers;
- support for the internationalisation of Italy’s university system;
- management of agreements regarding the mutual recognition of qualifications;
- scholarships for international students and Italian students living in specific countries;
- support for youth exchange projects;
- relations with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the Ministry of University and Research and other administrations and entities in the areas that fall under its scope of responsibility, and with the Dante Alighieri Society;
- participation, as secretariat, in the Advisory Working Group on the promotion of Italian culture and language abroad.
- Corsi di Lingua e Cultura
- Certificazioni di conoscenza della Lingua italiana
- Lettorati e Cattedre in Università straniere
- Contributi all’editoria
- Osservatorio della lingua italiana
- Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel mondo
- Stati Generali della Lingua Italiana nel mondo
- Studiare in Italia
- New Italian Books
The Ministry works hard to promote Italian culture abroad, mainly through the network of Italian Cultural Institutes. The country’s vibrant programming is characterised by ongoing shows, exhibitions and concerts, as well as themed festivals and major events; the aim of these initiatives is to tell the extraordinary story of Italy’s artistic and cultural heritage at the same time as shining the spotlight on the country’s new creative talents, boasting an ability to communicate with the contemporary world and look to the future.
Italian Cultural Institutes
The Ministry manages and coordinates the network of 82 Italian Cultural Institutes (IIC) around the world. These Institutes are places where intellectuals and artists can meet and exchange ideas; they are also open for Italians living abroad and for anyone wishing to cultivate a relationship with Italy. The Italian Cultural Institutes carry out multiple activities:
- they organise art, music, film, literature, theatre, dance, fashion, design, photography and architecture events and more;
- they offer courses in Italian language and culture;
- they promote Italy’s scientific culture;
- they manage an efficient network of libraries;
- they create contacts between Italian and foreign cultural operators;
- they facilitate dialogue between cultures based on the principles of democracy.
The contemporary art collection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation represents a formidable tool for culture diplomacy. This collection was created in 2000 at the initiative of Ambassador Umberto Vattani and today boasts over 400 works free-on-loan, telling the story of twentieth century Italian art.
- initiatives to promote, coordinate and direct cultural activities abroad (also to implement cultural agreements), including major events and periodic cultural festivals (visual arts, exhibition events, live entertainment, cultural industries and more);
- live entertainment and cultural industries, exhibition events and visual arts;
- artistic awards and sojourns;
- promotion of Italian film abroad;
- exchanges of teachers and cultural operators;
- relations with the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and for Tourism and other bodies and administrations in the areas falling under its scope of responsibility;
- checking and overseeing how the Italian Cultural Institutes are run, as well as the management of personnel and cultural experts;
- proposals to appoint highly skilled individuals with great cultural prestige as Directors of the Cultural Institutes (“of the highest repute”, pursuant to art. 14 of Italian Law no. 401/90); candidates are selected through public notices;
- executive protocols for cultural agreements;
- planning strategic guidelines for priority countries and thematic years;
- preserving and promoting the Farnesina artistic heritage, managing the Farnesina Collection being opened to the public and organising the relative exhibitions both in Italy and abroad;
- monitoring and safeguarding the works of art held by the Ministry and Italy’s cultural network around the world.
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