Richard Armstrong is one of the personalities in the art world who needs no introduction. But for anyone who does not yet know him, since 2008, he has been the Director of the prestigious Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, one of the centers of excellence for modern and contemporary art housed in the famous spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s.
Interviewed in Turin during his recent visit to the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Armstrong expressed his authoritative opinion on the current state of art, and more particularly, on the long-awaited event in Florence Art &Tourism (May 18-20).
“I believe that an event of this importance,” declared the Director who stands an imposing 1 meter 90 (nearly 6’ 3”), “should definitely arouse the interest of both public and private bodies. But that is not enough. It is vital that there are specific people capable of running large-scale initiatives such as Art&Tourism. Such a role falls, above all, to the young professionals in the field, who must be committed to carrying out this work in the future in an innovate way. The objective should be to stimulate the sensibility and interest of the public and to continually generate new developments for the country and its culture, whatever form it might take. Art, music, theatre, cinema, but also tourism and communication, are indispensable factors to change the vision of a society. Art&Tourism certainly plays a key role as a container for all such issues, and that’s why promotion demands particular attention, in addition it serves as a showcase for the wealth of culture to be found in Italy. Florence is the ideal starting point.”
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For years Armstrong has stressed the importance of the context in which a museum or an art exhibition in general comes to life – his own Guggenheim and the futurist “sister” museum in Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, serve as outstanding confirmation. All starts from the city itself and the venue: “I am convinced that the setting where artistic and cultural events take place has an important bearing on the success of the event, and Florence is undoubtedly a perfect setting for an appointment like Art&Tourism.” The art and tourism fair will be held in the 16th century Fortezza da Basso. Located in the center of the expo district of Florence, it has vast expanses, and will add considerable charm to the event.
The Director also dedicated some words to Turin, the city which played host to him for two days and gave him a welcome usually reserved for stars: “My stay in Turin made me realize how many wonderful things are hidden in this country beyond the renowned great classics such as Venice, Florence, and Rome. Turin is a city for artists and for anyone who has an understanding of beauty. That’s why I can only wish that the city continues to develop more and more its ability to attract visitors to the area thanks to experiences linked to culture and contemporary art, but not only [that].”
ART&TOURISM, KEY EVENT IN 2012
According to the authoritative publication, “The Year Ahead,” the fair is one of the appointments not to be missed. “The Year Ahead,” published every year by “The Art Newspaper,” cites the event in Florence as one of the most important fairs for the sector.
Art&Tourism will be one of the benchmark events in the artistic and cultural diary of 2012: it is cited as such by the authoritative publication, “The Year Ahead,” which publishes an annual calendar of the main exhibitions and fairs of the sector from January to December. The event in Florence will be promoted and publicized at the international level to the main decision-makers of the sector (curators, museum directors, collectors, buyers, publishers, and art lovers) who regularly consult the guide to find useful ideas, inspiration, and suggestions for their own businesses.
THE MUSEUMS MUST TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO ATTRACTS MORE VISITORS
The theme of disposition to consume the museum product will be at the center of a conference organized by Civita during Art & Tourism.
A country whose full potential remains to be exploited: this is the picture which emerges from a research study carried out by Studi G. Imperatori part of the Civita association, focused on supply and demand regarding the museum product in Italy.
Civita will organize a conference during Art&Tourism on the theme of the motivation that prompts people to consume the museum product or not.
The research indicates a slowing down in the investment regarding offer, which impacts on the development of the sector: on the one hand the public sector must face spending cuts and a slow-moving bureaucracy, and on the other the private sector, too, has to tackle approaches, which often do not suit the new demands of investors.
In other words, the museum resources already exist, but targeted policies addressed to boosting the economic role played by the sector are essential.
The research study also puts forward some hypothetical solutions to attract demand, defined in places as “discouraged.” Among these, specific offers for individual targets, innovative communication strategies, stronger links between centers where culture is produced and society, a greater opening up of the cultural venues in the country.
The complete results from the survey will be presented during the conference organized by Civita as part of Art & Tourism.