Back in 2014, we worked with the City of Matera, in Italy, as it bid for the crown of European Capital of Culture 2019. Our contribution consisted in helping them set up a citizen innovation network, where all strata of society – not just artists or culture professionals – pooled ingenuity and resources to make Matera into place humming with human creativity.
People responded with passion and skills, because that’s what people do when given the chance. They organised activities around data, coding for thousands of children and green energy. They walked for weeks from village to village onto Matera, to let everybody know that the whole region supported the city and wanted to be a part of the Capital of Culture project. They switched off public lighting and replaced it with tens of thousands of candles. They reclaimed public spaces, such as never-completed railways. In all this, the unMonastery – a residency programme for hackers and social innovators – stood as an exciting new model for a city to build international relationship around civic innovation.
The city did win the title. In late 2014 it was proclaimed European Capital of Culture for 2019 amidst an explosion of joy.
After the celebration came a long and difficult reorganisation. A Matera 2019 Foundation was rolled out. Staff was hired and office space was reclaimed. Now, the city feels it is time to re-open the door to bottom-up initiatives. The Foundation has involved Edgeryders in designing and animating a community supporting people that want to create projects to contribute to Matera 2019’s programme. Fostering new creative partnership between Matera locals and other people and groups, both in the region and all across Europe and the Mediterranean, is part of the remit of this new community.
Look out for updates on this front, and be ready to get involved. For more info, you can talk to me – I’ll be project managing.