HYPOTHESIS AND THEORY article
Sec. Innovation and Governance
Volume 4 - 2022 | https://doi.org/10.3389/frsc.2022.777708
Participatory Governance of Culture and Cultural Heritage: Policy, Legal, Economic Insights From Italy
- 1Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome (LUISS) Luiss University Department of Law, Rome, Italy
- 2LabGov.city Program, Department of Law and Department of Political Science, Rome, Italy
- 3Environmental Justice Program, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States
- 4Department of Humanities, Ancient and Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
The topic of participatory governance of cultural heritage (hereinafter PGCH) is increasingly at the core of the debate on the policy approach to cultural heritage in Europe. This paper aims at offering an innovative approach to this topic by bringing a multi-actor, commons-based governance model, whereby it is often stated that PGCH may well be implemented by entrusting local communities with the restoration and valorization of cultural heritage. We argue that this model is best realized through a public-private-community partnership (PPCP) employing a diversity of legal tools. The article sketches out the legal background underpinning PGCH, provides an overview of its conceptualization in the academic debate and looks at the main policy initiatives adopted at the European and Italian domestic level. The article goes on focusing on commons-oriented case-studies of PGCH, adopting a qualitative methodology: the experimental process of the Co-Roma social partnership (Rome); the Faro Heritage Community Friends of Molo San Vincenzo (Naples); the Royal Estate of Carditello (San Tammaro); the Catacombs in Rione Sanità (Naples). Finally, the article raises some reflections and comments on the peculiarity of the PPCP model and its criticalities. The main argument we advance is that a commons-inspired, multi-actor governance model is a way to implement the vision entrenched by the European Union and the Council of Europe for supporting PGCH. This approach to PGCH may contribute to develop a sustainable and inclusive governance model, adaptive to the local needs.
The participatory dimension in the governance of cultural heritage in Europe is an increasingly investigated topic. This article contributes to the analysis of the topic of participatory governance of cultural heritage (hereinafter, PGCH) and its implementation in Italy, with a focus on cases adopting a multi-actor and commons-based approach.
This article advances the argument that legal and policy frameworks on PGCH in Europe could be (and indeed they are already) implemented by adopting an approach according to which public and community actors at the local level activates forms of multi-auctorial governance around cultural heritage.
In some cases, these governance arrangements might be defined as commons and managed by a complex partnership, ideally a public-private-community partnership where the local community had a key role. The partnership is entrusted with the heritage valorisation, restoration, preservation for the future generations and management. While attractive, the notion of a common-inspired PGCH requires several conditions to foster a more just and inclusive local sustainable development. Among them (but not limited to): collective action at the local level, recognition of the rights of use, management, ownership to local communities.
The case studies analyzed in this article show legal tools as diverse as informality-based norms; Heritage Communities; Civic Uses; NGOs; cooperatives; Foundations. Those structures can work simultaneously. The local community gains the right to use, manage or own a cultural heritage, the partnership creates a sustainability mechanism that can contribute to the social and economic empowerment of the urban areas or territories involved.
Our main argument is that a partnership of local actors willing to implement a commons-inspired PGCH shall adopt principles of institutional, policy, legal diversity and employs a variety of tools which reflects different needs and capabilities of the actors involved.
The literature on participation of local communities in cultural heritage governance is rich. PGCH lies at the intersection of different disciplines and topics: participation, both in cultural and citizenship terms; governance, in terms of decentralization and collaborative arrangements to govern resources; the peculiarities related to the management of cultural heritage. Added to this is the commons perspective raising from the consideration of culture and cultural heritage as a commons as reflected by an increasing number of experiences.1
A full account of this large body of scholarship is much beyond the scope of this article. However, we cautiously argue that re-framing cultural heritage as a commons might be of support for those scholars underlying the motive of the collective mobilization of local communities to reclaim a right to tangible2 and intangible3 heritage. It might also support the conceptualization of people-centred approaches to cultural heritage management. This would help to operationalize the rights-based arguments for participation in cultural heritage. Rights-based arguments to cultural heritage have been widely and critically investigated by scholars of cultural heritage law with examples in contexts as different as Africa, Central and Latin America, Oceania,4 challenging the legal discourse around participation in cultural heritage.
We recognize that role of the law (or the absence of it) in shaping opportunities for communities' empowerment in cultural heritage and we want to stress the need for more empirical knowledge on context-based and people-centred approaches in cultural heritage policy.
This is especially true when tangible and intangible heritage are intertwined and when multi-actor partnerships must be activated to ensure sustainability of processes or heritage restoration and governance and produce positive impact on local communities. In the managerial debate, the investigation of the PGCH phenomenon appears to be rarer than in the legal one. Among the main works, we can mention some case studies about participatory processes in cultural heritage management,5 an increasing attention toward participatory approach in policies for culture,6 in specific initiatives, like the European Capital of Culture,7 or countries.8
It is worth noting a wider discussion and investigation at the international and the European level, where several reports and recommendations have been elaborated, especially in the last decade, as if PGCH would emerge more as a practice rather than as a theoretical managerial model/solution (that explains our phenomenon-driven research approach).
The article will proceed as follows. First, we argue that a commons-based interpretation of PGCH chiefly relies upon two pillars: the Faro Convention9 and the EU framework for PGCH.Then, we introduce and describe existing analytical frameworks on culture and cultural heritage as commons and propose a framework that can be used to analyse multi-actor governance of cultural heritage as commons. Furthermore, by adopting a phenomenon-driven and descriptive approach,10 we will introduce a description and analysis of four commons-oriented cases of PGCH and heritage communities in Italy: (i) the Co-Roma heritage community and social partnership (Rome); (ii) the Faro Heritage Community Friends of Molo San Vincenzo; (iii) the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello in San Tammaro (Caserta, Campania) and the Regulation for Civic and Collective Urban Uses (City of Naples); (iv) the Catacombs of San Gennaro and Gaudioso and the legal entities surrounding it.
In the discussion, we argue that the commons approach requires complexity of actors and tools. Ideally it should take the form and the substance of a PPCP, which brings the positive feature of supporting the sustainability of commons arrangements and restoration of the heritage tangible assets. It also requires a combination of public and private law tools.
We ultimately find that a commons-based approach to PGCH can be sustainable and inclusive, if properly supported by legal tools adaptive to local needs. Finally, we dedicate adequate reflection to the criticalities of the cases analyzed and the way forward for an improved PPCP model.
The Legal and Policy Landscape of PGCH at The International and European Union Scale. Participation in Culture as a Right and as a Governance Arrangement
While the UN and UNESCO11 lay the ground for the broader recognition of participation in cultural heritage, its legal bases in Europe can be retraced in the approach of the Council of Europe (hereinafter: CoE) and the European Union (hereinafter: EU).
The Faro Convention can be considered as the continuation of the European Landscape Convention, the Florence Convention (2000).12 The Florence Convention introduced a people-centred notion of landscape which is detached from the pure material features of landscape, defined as “an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors.”13 The Faro Convention builds on this notion of landscape to define cultural heritage as an area “a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time.”14 The preamble refers to “rights relating to cultural heritage” as “inherent in the right to participate in cultural life” laid out by international soft law,15 and acknowledges the “need to put the person and human values at the heart of an expanded and interdisciplinary idea of cultural heritage.”16 It also introduces the definition of “heritage community,”17 which is the heart of a commons-based approach to heritage.
The Faro Convention is rooted in the idea that knowledge and the use of cultural heritage are part of the right of the individual to participate freely in the cultural life of the community and to enjoy the arts. However, its legal binding nature has been questioned having regard to its Article 6, which specifies that “no provision of this Convention shall be interpreted so as to: [..] create enforceable rights.” Indeed, some authors observed that the Faro Convention is a framework convention, whose scope is merely to set out general objectives and identify areas of action,18 while others argue that it indeed provides a participatory rights-based approach to cultural heritage.19 The Member States enjoy much leeway as regards the ways, times and means to implement the agreement. In this way, the primary role is left to practice, whilst the Faro Convention represents the reference soft-law instrument containing a benchmark set of definitions.
The text of the Convention describes cultural heritage as “a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time.” It then enlarges the range of actors considered as having rights and responsibilities toward cultural heritage, other than States and cultural property owners. The Faro Convention conceptualizes Heritage communities as actors that “consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations,”20 therefore accentuating the rights of future generations.21 The continuity between the Florence Convention and the Faro Convention emerges from the definition of cultural heritage as including the environment (every aspect of it). While this is beyond the scope of this paper, it would suffice to raise the readers' attention to the role of law and policy in relation to the connection between heritage communities, climate change, environmental stewardship and sustainable development is becoming increasingly relevant.
The pivotal role of local communities, NGOs and other actors in the management of cultural heritage is set forth in section Arguments in Defense and Against a Commons Framework for the Governance of Cultural Heritage on “shared responsibility for cultural heritage and public participation.” States are encouraged to promote not only an increased access to the benefits of cultural heritage, especially for the youth, but also to “develop innovative ways for public authorities to co-operate with other actors,”22 to “develop the legal, financial and professional frameworks which make possible joint action by public authorities, experts, owners, investors, businesses, non-governmental organizations and civil society”23 and to “recognize the role of voluntary organizations both as partners in activities and as constructive critics of cultural heritage policies,”24 while at the same time encouraging the same NGOs to “act in the public interest.”25
The importance of the participatory dimension in cultural heritage governance has emerged over time in EU policies. It is highlighted by Decision No 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033,26 which states that one of the ECOC general objectives is “to safeguard and promote the diversity of cultures in Europe and to highlight the common features they share as well as to increase citizens' sense of belonging to a common cultural area”27; among the specific objectives, we could mention “to widen access to and participation in culture.”28 The involvement of citizens has thus become a crucial issue also in the ECOC project, in terms of local political commitment, audiences and participants engagement, volunteering and activities for specific targets. In 2012–2014 some Council of Europe Conclusions emphasized the importance of a shift in cultural governance, toward a people-centred and integrated approach: “strengthening the involvement of the relevant civil society actors in order to make cultural governance more open, participatory, effective and coherent.”29 The official acknowledgment of the role of PGCH was made with the Council conclusions on participatory governance of cultural heritage30 and the 2015 Resolution of the European Parliament of 8 September “Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe.”31
Meanwhile, a mapping of practices in the EU Member States on Participatory governance of cultural heritage was conducted and published in June 2015 by the EENC-European Expert Network on Culture, in the context of the OMC Working group on cultural heritage established by the Work Plan for culture 2015–2018. In 2018, the working group published the final report on “Participatory governance of cultural heritage,”32 containing a state of the art and policy recommendations on developing PGCH at different levels. By stressing the organizational dimension at the micro-level, as we do in this article, experts highlight the need for “proper human resources (such as trained staff) and financial resources as well as the drafting of legislation and the preparation of organizational measures,”33 and considered “the recognition of cultural heritage as a common good, a shared resource and a driver of sustainable development”34 as the first precondition.
In parallel, in 2014 another working group was established, the Horizon 2020 Expert group on Cultural Heritage, pursuant to the provisions of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014–2015 for Societal Challenge 5 “Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.” Besides the promotion of the innovative use of cultural heritage for economic growth and jobs, social cohesion and environmental sustainability, in its Recommendations n. 3 the group clearly calls for “Inclusive governance.” Following up on the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018,35 the European Commission set up the Informal Expert Group on Cultural Heritage in 2019, to promote public long-term and sustainable policies for a European integrated approach to cultural heritage, providing advice to the Commission and supporting the implementation of the European Framework for Action for Cultural Heritage through a variety of initiatives. Some of them focused on participatory governance or adaptive reuse. In 2018, with the New European Agenda for Culture,36 the Commission expressly refers to participatory governance of cultural heritage as one of the primary objectives of its policy and highlighted the importance of sustainability in cultural heritage.
The Work Plan for culture 2019–2022 looks at participatory governance as the first action area to achieve the “sustainability of cultural heritage” (priority A). Between 2018 and 2019, the Council adopted resolutions and conclusions on cultural dimension of sustainable development and mainstreaming cultural heritage sustainability.37
Finally, the Horizon Europe program under Pillar 2, Cluster 2 “Culture, Creativity and Innovative Societies,” focuses on challenges related to cultural heritage on terms of increased participation of citizens in museums and other cultural institutions, that will be critical infrastructures in the post-pandemic societies, to increase social cohesion and cultural pluralism.38 Veldpaus, Fava and Brodowicz canvassed policies for heritage re-use across Europe to assess how the participatory dimension of cultural heritage can also be understood as the capacity of heritage to achieve different policy goals, such as climate change for example.39
International organizations and institutions promoted a rich variety of initiatives and programs that support a participatory dimension in culture. UNESCO40; The Northwest Europe and North-America Regional Secretariat of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC); the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)41 and more recently the Ministries of Culture at G2042 supported several initiatives in Europe to increase awareness on the role of cultural heritage for the thriving of local communities43 and promote their engagement in the management of cultural heritage.
The Faro Convention generated a rich array of initiatives and programs on the ground, to support its implementation and serving as Faro good practices: Heritage committee, Heritage walk, Residents' co-operative, Urban revelation workshop, Metropolitan trail. To promote the application of the Convention, initiatives like the FARO action plan, Faro Community, Faro in Action, Faro Spotlight and Faro research, as well as FARO Convention network44 of heritage communities have been launched. The Faro Convention network coordinates the local actions of heritage communities across all 46 CoE member states. The association to the network is open and is based on a self-assessment process with tools provided by the network that communities can carry out, autonomously or with the support of experts.
The Urban Agenda for the EU (Pact of Amsterdam), and the Urban Agenda Partnership on culture and cultural heritage constituted within it emphasize as one of the items to smoothen the implementation of existing EU strategies for cities the collaborative Management to adapt and reuse spaces and buildings for cultural and social innovative development.45 Although not directly related to PGCH, the European Green Deal46 tackles the need for co-governance and innovative territorial collaboration in order to address the challenges brought by climate change in all areas and mitigate its effects.
Arguments in Defense and Against a Commons Framework for the Governance of Cultural Heritage
The emphasis put by laws and policies on the participatory dimension for cultural heritage governance suggests that local communities are entitled to have a prominent role and benefit from the economic development connected to heritage. The development of an analytical framework to understand how this might translate in an operative model is a necessary step. What we argue is that the commons framework might represent a possible model. A complete account of this scholarship would take too much space in this paper, so we are going to quickly summarize the basic assumptions.
The literature on the commons is extensive. We will consider the scholarship that originates from the analysis of self-governed common pool resources (hereinafter: CPR) as natural or constructed resource systems sufficiently large as to make it costly, although possible, to exclude beneficiaries from using it like land, fisheries, irrigation systems among others. Starting from the analysis of case studies in many areas of the world of CPRs self-governed by local communities, Elinor Ostrom and other scholars after her demonstrated that cooperative arrangements based on a blend of public and private tools are able to secure CPRs' long-term conservation and the flourishing of communities relying upon them.47
Scholarships on new types of commons48 stemmed from this seminal work: global, infrastructure, urban and neighborhood,49 culture, knowledge, heritage. Cultural heritage commons are challenging for the deep interconnection between tangible and intangible dimensions. The role of people in defining and redefining values is key. They are shared and managed by a community that is responsible for it, regardless of the spatial dimension of physical characteristics.50 Heritage commons are intertwined with regulations and deal with issues of under-use and overconsumption. Similarly to urban commons, they are constructed51; share many features of common pool resources, such as “the difficulty of excluding people and the need to design effective rules, norms and institutions for resource stewardship and governance.”52 However, they differ in several ways: they result from social processes and institutional design which bring together different types of institutions, norms and people and “do not exist in a pre-political space”53 but are rich of contrasts and hyperregulated.
Heritage commons also share features with open commons54 and knowledge commons like cultural creations, information, innovation: non-tragic commons, where an abundance55 of users is needed to restore the value of the commons. Carol Rose describes this situation as comedy of the commons56 where rather than resulting in overconsumption, an agglomeration of users contributes to the resource growth.
The commons' scholarship emphasizes the potential for cooperative arrangements to create the right environment and provide the tools to develop more inclusive and fair forms of governance57 that ensure the conservation of congestible resources or the co-creation of non-congestible resources, while at the same time ensuring the sustainability of communities relying upon said resources. Gould argues that each knowledge and cultural commons needs systems of control, governance rules and structures that guarantee economic advantages for the community that is the producer of the knowledge.
Actors in the cultural heritage arena like “government agencies, archeologists, local communities, tourism operators and international organizations may claim a place at the governance table.”58 Governing cultural heritage as a commons consists in adopting a community-based approach which distributes responsibilities and powers including the local community. In that way, the management is more inclusive and responsive to local needs and more advantageous for individuals closely linked to the heritage.59 Heritage scholars highlighted that a commons framework contributes to the foundations of a political economy of cultural heritage60 that moves away from the celebration of national unity as the main scope of cultural heritage.
On a more critical note, some scholars noted that people called upon to manage the resource “may not necessarily constitute a cohesive or historic community”61 or they may even be uninterested in engaging into managing a heritage in their local area.62
There is prominent scholarship on the relevance of civic engagement in fostering local inclusive growth. A notorious example on the topic of urban planning is Arnstein's ladder of citizen participation.63 Nanetti and Holguin64 analyzed in detail the role of EU funds in promoting a prominent role for social capital in territorial development in Italy, Naples included. In framing governance of cultural heritage as a commons civic engagement is complex since it might entail conflicts over the meaning and use of the resources and the type and form of engagement. As some scholars recently noted when applying a city as a commons framework in Liverpool (UK),65 the current scholarship on commons in hyperregulated spaces like cities does not adequately address the conflicts and power imbalance between different actors.
The position of those admonishing that framing heritage as a commons may not inherently entail a democratic and fair governance system that benefit local communities is congenial to us. Heritage becomes valuable only through the interaction of actors within a given socio-political system. We do support the point that understanding who profit from this value, whether is used for the expansion of the commons or is being captured66, is a task beyond the realm of empirical sciences.67
At the same time, we believe it is reasonably fair to recognize that “politics is unavoidable, even and especially in a crisis” as recently argued in relation to the role of law in structuring public participation on decision making regarding climate change.68 The need for an analytical framework to understand and assess the role of law and policy in shaping the involvement of a variety of actors and the empowerment of local communities in the governance of cultural heritage seems to be of the upmost relevance.
A Multi-Actor Partnership to Support Commons-Inspired Institution for PGCH
The commons literature can provide us with the analytical tools to understand the fundamental elements (resource; community; governance system) and suggest investigating a diversity of governance mechanisms and tools. The commons framework focusing on governance shows how, regardless of the ownership or the legal framework regulating it, what matters for cultural heritage sustainable restoration is the development of a community. Some scholars argue that the presence of a institutionalized mechanism to share resources by a community is what ultimately constitute a commons.69
But mechanisms of cultural heritage governance may require complex and, we argue, multi-actor arrangement. Within discussions in theories of metropolitan governance, some authors identified a model of polycentrism which would entail a myriad of formally autonomous but interdependent centres of decision-making.70 A dimension of multi-actor collaboration for cultural heritage can also be rooted in the broader literature on civic engagement and urban collaborative governance. A wide literature emerging in the nineties and still currently hotly active discusses social-public cooperation as a new form of governing that implies sharing tasks and responsibilities between public and private actors that act in conjunction.71 Parts of this literature observe the spread of community-led or institutionally designed participatory processes at the urban governance level. Other parts interpret solutions and models of public administration emerging as alternatives to the public-private governance model that increased significantly in several parts of Europe in the previous decade.72
Elinor Ostrom and others explored the significance and relevance of institutional diversity in relation to the principle of nestedness, especially for the commons or to solve complex global problems like climate change.73 Especially for large scale, complex commons, she described how is possible to organize different governance arrangements at different layers. The different layers are nested within the commons, but they are also nested (and produce effects) in external system, for example local or regional levels of government.74
We argue that PGCH can be implemented as a form of local co-governance in which a diversity of actors share decision making and managing processes about a site or element of cultural heritage, for which they assume responsibilities in partnership. With the term commons, one refers not only to the resource, but also to its community of belonging and the governance model adopted. The governance of a commons resource provides for a central role played by the community actors involved in the management in order to be successful. A polycentric governance of cultural heritage as commons is sustainable when social and economic sustainability is ensured, contributing to the creation of local forms of economic democracy with the affirmative goal of social and economic empowerment of vulnerable residents and local communities. Public authorities have a crucial role in this model75 to be defined as an enabling state.76
Due to the high degree of professional knowledge required to protect and enhance cultural heritage, the complexity of the legal framework and the risks connected with any experimental process involving a significant amount of investment of time, energy and resources, responsibilities and powers should be shared differently within the partnership. Participatory governance raises question not only about civic capacity building in participatory terms, but also as regards the scientific knowledge and skills related to the protection and enhancement of cultural heritage.
Positioning PGCH Within Theories of Knowledge-Driven Territorial Transitions
A useful framework seems to be those proposed by the scholarship on triple, quadruple, quintuple helix model of innovation. This literature analyses innovation ecosystems to explain the area-based economic growth (mostly in the US) with the collaborative relationships between actors of the ecosystem. The initial definition of a triple helix focused on relations between the industry, the State and the University. It evolved into a quadruple helix model emphasizing the role of civil society and the media. Latest evolutions introduce a quintuple helix model which for some authors includes the environment,77 for others local entrepreneurship.78
We also adopted a quintuple helix model where the fifth actor was the unorganized public composed of informal groups and individuals interested in contributing to the commons.79 Drawing on these existing theories of multi-actor led territorial development, we argue that an appropriate model to conceptualize an arrangement that works in complex system while also being iterative and adaptive to local needs is that of a “multiple helix” model of governance, inclusive of all the above-mentioned categories and with an incremental design principle: more actors can be included, depending on the specific local situation.
Multiple helixes model requires to be supported by an appropriate governance or legal tool. The emerging academic debate on new models of multi-stakeholder partnership is rich and is describing partnerships that include civic and other kinds of actors in addition to the bilateral public-private partnership, already familiar to the public management scholarship.
These have been defined as public-private-people partnerships.80 Within a multiple helix model, multiple actors collaborate through appropriate legal, institutional, management tools institutionalized within a formal partnership to restore or co-create heritage assets, services, infrastructures. These public-private-community partnerships for cultural heritage co-governance are composed by: the unorganized public (informally organized local communities; individuals connected to the heritage by proximity to the heritage site or interest in contributing to the commons institution); public authorities (possibly belonging to different levels of government: City, Regional, State level); businesses with a commitment to territorial responsibility; NGOs, philanthropic foundations and other types of civil society organizations active in the local area; knowledge institutions like schools, universities, research centres; media.
This article has an empirical focus on the case of Italy and interdisciplinary perspective (policy; management; law). The primary goal is to analyse multi-actor, commons-inspired PGCH cases using a framework merging PGCH, heritage community and the commons literatures. First, we provide an overview on the implementation of PGCH and Faro Convention principles in legal provisions and policy initiatives in Italy. We then analyse four case studies of PCGH-inspired commons institutions, selected through a field-based and case studies approach.
The Co-Roma case is a field experimentation initiated by the research team in 2014 and conflated in 2018 into an Horizon2020 project, “Open Heritage.”81 It investigates the conditions to activate a commons institution and a heritage community as triggers for inclusive economic development at the neighborhood/district level while regenerating tangible and intangible heritage.
To make the analysis of the Co-Roma case more robust, we expand the analysis to other case studies of projects implementing the PGCH and Faro Convention principles in a different context. We extracted the cases from a dataset of case of commons we produced in a previous research: www.commoning.city. We focused on the Campania Region due to the qualities of the relationship between city governments and local communities that implement forms of self-organization and create commons identified by the literature.82
We identified cases that would share similar features in terms of the main elements of a commons institution, but different governance outcomes and partnerships. These cases are inspired by a commons-based approach, in that the community actors are closely engaged, to different extents, with the governance of the cultural commons at stake, and manage to extract social, cultural and economic value out of it. They differ in terms of the policy process and the legal form opted for by the founders to set up the main/parent organization, whereas they share the common feature of being surrounded by a constellation of collaborative organized and unorganized civic actors, i.e., NGOs, organized social entities, the unorganized public or informal groups, and individuals.
The analysis is based on fieldwork notes, meetings reports and semi-structured interviews with representatives from case studies and policy makers. Additionally, we relied on desk analysis of documents produced by the case studies (Reporting documents; Balance and yearly reports). A first round of interviews was conducted between 2016 and 2018, followed by follow-up interviews in 2021. We then coded the data using the analytical grid showed below in Table 1. We generated the grid by merging the analytical frameworks developed by scholars on knowledge and heritage commons with key elements identified by the policies on PGCH and Faro Convention.
Participatory Governance of Cultural Heritage in Italy: Policies and Case Studies
The National Context: Between (Tentative) Policies and (Spread) Practices
Within the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, in 2017 a new Eurobarometer was published, assessing attitudes and opinions of Europeans about cultural heritage, especially as regards their involvement and the perceived importance and values they attach to Europe's cultural heritage. When considering the actors that should contribute to the protection of cultural heritage, results concerning Italy are within average ranges as regards the role of the national authorities, local and regional authorities and citizens, while are lower than average as regards EU, universities and schools, benefactors and sponsors, associations and NGOs. If on one side the results confirm the role that citizens should have on the topic, on the other there does not seem to be a real awareness about the role that private, civic, knowledge, media actors could play. This trend reflects the quite fragmented situation of non-State actors and especially residents and local communities' involvement in the governance of cultural heritage in Italy:
“There is a large gap between reality and models/politics/policies, so that the processes of participatory governance are still in the hands of the good will of individuals, and in many cases the territory with its practices seems to be ahead of policy-makers. For instance, in Italy there are many good practices scattered across the country, but we cannot say we have been able to become really inclusive yet. I don't believe that much in a general coordination, but more in a State creating a framework to stimulate the activation of participatory processes for the governance of cultural heritage.” (Interview to Rosaria Mencarelli, Italian representative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in the OMC working group Participatory governance of cultural heritage May 26, 2017)
Italy ratified the Faro Convention in 2020.83 Meanwhile, without a specific overall policy on PGCH implementation, some sporadic initiatives related to citizens' involvement in the governance of cultural heritage have been launched and promoted at the national level by different ministries and in different forms.
We could refer, for instance, to the “Heritage Commons” Conference held in Turin in February 2014 by the Ministry of Cultural heritage, with the aim to discuss the implications related to the adoption of a commons' perspective for cultural heritage, or to the acknowledgments of cultural heritage enhancement in the overall development process of the communities within the “National Strategy for Inner Areas” launched by the Ministry for the territorial cohesion in 2013.
An interesting call for projects connecting cultural heritage and society was launched in 2017 by the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR), within the European Structural Funds framework, more precisely within the National Operational Programme “Education” 2014–2020. Eighty millions € were made available by the Ministry in order to enhance and foster the education in cultural heritage among students of both primary and secondary schools, in order to raise awareness about its value as a common good and its potential in developing democracy. A noteworthy opportunity for the development of a participatory approach in culture has been the application process for the European Capital of Culture concerning Italy in 2019. Since 2012, many Italian cities initiated the elaboration of a strategic process of cultural development, that brought to the participation of 21 cities to the first pre-selection, and then ended with the nomination of Matera in 2014, selected mainly for its participatory process
Among the most recent actions, we can mention the approval of the new statute of the Etruscan National Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2018. At Art. 2 concerning the mission of the museum, besides the traditional activities, there is an explicit reference to the Faro Convention:
The museum aims at creating an integrated network of sites and cultural organizations in order to promote the cultural and social growth and the economic development of the local areas represented in its collections, also enhancing the creation of heritage communities as described in the Faro Convention.
Despite these actions, the interest of PGCH in Italy lies not with the institutional framework—that actually does not seem to underpin any strategy or policy—but within the emergence of different bottom-up practices, such as the case studies presented in this paper. There are relevant Italian examples of museums, parks and heritage assets, especially in Southern Italy,84 whose governance has had its origins from a community experience [e.g., Officine Culturali (Catania), Ex Fadda (San Vito dei Normanni, BR), Farm Cultural Park (Favara, ME)]. Other experiences are supported by FAI, the Italian National Trust, a not-for-profit private-law foundation managing 50 sites, with more than 200 employees and more than 8,000 volunteers. Undoubtedly, all these experiences would need a deeper investigation in order to understand their resources, results and sustainability models, and this paper represents an effort in this sense.
Commons-Inspired PGCH Case Studies in Italy
Insights From an Ongoing Experimentation of a Public-Private-Community Partnership: The Co-roma Process
The Co-Roma social partnership stemmed from a research project85 initiated in 2014 and aimed at investigating whether a commons institution, inspired by the principles of the Faro Convention and PGCH, would facilitate mechanisms of co-creation and sustainable co-governance of heritage at the neighborhood level. The experimentation was carried out using an original methodological framework (named Co-City protocol) for experimenting with commons institution in complex city neighborhoods, based on a combination of applied urban governance and policy experimentalism. It initiated with a community mapping and co-design lab at the neighborhood level. At the end of the mapping phase, the experimentation area selected is the Southern-Eastern district of the City of Rome, in an area corresponding to three neighborhoods rich of archaeological and cultural heritage, while presenting some of the worse indicators in the city in relation to the social and economic vulnerability of its inhabitants: Alessandrino, Centocelle, Torre Spaccata.
The following phases of co-design, practicing and prototyping resulted in the incubation of a community-based organization, the “Community for the Public Park of Centocelle, CPPC,” legally constituted as an NGO. CPPC founders are local residents, pre-existing local NGOs and social entrepreneurs active in the neighborhoods.86 The CPPC undertook the self-assessment process suggested to be recognized as a Faro Heritage Community87 and eventually joined the Faro Convention network in 2018.88 Initially supported with funding and organizational support offered by the research team and later autonomously, the Community organizes activities like civic collaboration festivals, heritage walks and digital storytelling; advocacy toward the district and city level authorities to raise attention and divert funds toward the care of the heritage, all which enriches the role of heritage stewardship embodied by the community.89
But the not-for profit activities where not the only local needs emerging from the co-design process. Growth-oriented activities like the creation of a bike renting services and bike tours of the heritage; promotion of local, residents-owned shops and restaurants; a civic platform to deliver digital neighborhood services like shared child minding emerged. The community commitment to invest time and efforts in volunteering was accompanied by the need of creating an entrepreneurial organization that would allow to conduct activities of bigger impact in the local area, as well as generate employment opportunities (Interview with members of the Co-Roma social partnership, January 2022).
The research team responded to this need by organizing a series of co-design labs and workshops to provide the community with skills that would allow the creation of an entrepreneurial vehicle and by structuring networking opportunities with key actors in the field (i.e., the Italian National League of Cooperatives) and by including the process within an H2020 project on the reuse of cultural heritage to generate more empirical evidence. Within Open Heritage, the Co-Roma pilot is experimenting the conditions for sustainability of a neighborhood/area based social partnership that restore and reuse cultural heritage as a trigger for community economic development.
Alongside other pilots,90 Co-Roma is experimenting challenges and enabling factors for communities that are taking care of or co-creating a heritage commons in the process of evolution toward an entrepreneurial organization, ideally combined with an institutionalized multi-actor governance arrangement, as the cases discussed below suggest. The process is still ongoing and is not the goal of this article to discuss it. It is sufficient to say that in 2018 the experimentation was at the turning point of creation of an entrepreneurial form to support the evolution of the activities.
This entrepreneurial form was identified in a neighborhood cooperative founded by representatives of all actors involved so far in the process (local social entrepreneurs; NGOs; informal groups; volunteers willing to join an entrepreneurial journey); the governance mechanism designed to embed principles of inclusiveness and diversity of cultures, identities, multiple visions of heritage, openness as well as principles of value creation and benefits sharing with the neighborhood and the community.
Faro Heritage Community in Naples: Friends of Molo San Vincenzo
The Naples Heritage Community is devoted to the Molo San Vincenzo, an ancient Wharf in the Naples Waterfront belonging to a military area. Molo San Vincenzo is divided into two parts. Part of the wharf is occupied by headquarters of the Military Navy (which practically restricts the access to the area), and it contains a cultural asset, the Bacino di Raddobbo Borbonico, from the heliport on, the dock is owned and managed by the Port Authority.
Similarly to other Heritage Communities active in Italy it has a not-for-profit nature and aims at agglomerating different actors that are active in the area and have the power and the interest to make the wharf accessible for the public and to increase the knowledge of the cultural heritage it represents for the City. Similarly to the Centocelle Heritage Community, the process of creation of a Heritage Community around the San Vincenzo wharf was initiated (around 2014) by an action research project activated by urban planning researchers at the Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development (IRISS) National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and community phycologists from the University of Naples Federico II, in partnership with the local community.
The action research started by organizing heritage walks, media campaign to disseminate knowledge and later by organizing co-design workshops to facilitate the drafting of an action plan by the local community. The heritage community aims at: enhancing the wharf and co-creating of new shared values, stimulating a dialogue between the Ministry of Defense and Infrastructure, the Military Navy, creating awareness between Naples' residents and visitors about the cultural heritage related to the Naples Waterfront; making it accessible for citizens and visitors. Currently, the area is only accessible by crossing Military Navy. Throughout the years, NGOs and groups of residents joined the community. The community was formally constituted in an NGO in 2015 and joined the Faro Convention Network as a heritage community in 2019. The heritage community is now following through its action plan and is supporting the process of institutional dialogue to have the proposal of opening up the Wharf to the public approved.
Over the years, the FMSVs have brought over 3,000 visitors to the pier, built up a network of 23 associations working together to enhance the pier, organized some 20 conferences, 5 co-design workshops and 20 visits/events (Interview with representatives of the Friends of Molo San Vincenzo, January 2022).
Public-Community and Community – Public Partnerships: The Royal Estate of Carditello, San Tammaro (Campania) and the Civic and Collective Urban Uses (Naples)
The first example of institutionalized commons-inspired PGCH is the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello in San Tammaro, in the province of Caserta (Campania). The Royal Estate of Carditello was commissioned in 1787 by Ferdinand IV of the House of Bourbons, sovereign of the Kingdom of Naples, to serve as a farmhouse.91 The ownership of the site was passed over by several entities across more than two centuries. This situation of regulatory slippage contributed to the site' deterioration.
The most significant property shift occurred in the aftermath of the creation of the Italian Republic, when the House of Savoia of Turin transferred the property to the National Entity for Veterans. The Entity parceled the Estate and distributed it to about a thousand veterans' families. During the II World War, the Estate was occupied by the German and later the US military. In 1948 it was transferred to the general consortium for the site restoration of the Bacino Inferiore del Basso Volturno.
The Consortium mismanaged its properties and accumulated a huge amount of debt throughout the years. This situation led to bankruptcy and eventually to an unsuccessful public auction of the Estate. Finally, in 2013 the Italian Ministry of Culture stepped up, took initiative to purchase the Estate and committed to reopen it to the public after renovation. The proactive initiative of members and groups from the local community was instrumental in the process that led to the acquisition of the Royal estate by the Ministry.
The community raised the public authority's attention through media campaigns and volunteered to carry out daily care of the site. A group of NGOs, the “Committee Save Carditello” promoted an awareness campaign on local and national media. Since 2011, a group of NGOs and residents called “Forum Agenda 21 for Carditello and the Regi Lagni” was created and continued the media campaign.
A key role was played by a local farmer named Tommaso Cestrone. His residence and farm were located nearby the site and for years he volunteered to keep the area clean and contributed to protect it from vandalism. The judge of the bankruptcy court responsible for the Carditello case appointed him auxiliary judicial custodian of the Royal Estate. He passed away on Christmas day in 2013, few weeks before the Ministry site acquisition was finalized.
In 2016, the Ministry, the Campania Region and the City of Carditello established a Participatory Foundation, “Fondazione Real Sito di Carditello.” The Foundation is a tool to pool resources to preserve public ownership, ensure universal, affordable access to the site while also stimulating a sense of belonging of the local community. The Foundation does so by promoting several activities with and for the local community.
The main goal of the Foundation is to raise funds and oversee the renovation works necessary to open the estate to the public. Up to 2020, it raised 12 million euros through national grants and is overseeing renovation works of buildings and cultural assets within the estate.
Second, it contributes to the remediation/restoration of the environmental and intangible heritage value of the Carditello landscape. For decades, the site suffered by the proximity to the land of fires, an area in Campania used by the organized criminality to illegally dispose of toxic waste. The building within the Estate was used by the organized criminality to run private activities and the outdoor space for illegal waste disposal, including asbestos.
The Foundation carried out the environmental restoration of two woods within Estate. It created a playground and picnic area that the community can use to organize social activities and where the Foundation offers yoga classes, workshops, a cultural festival “Jazz & Wine”; it created a heritage walk trail including one to recover the memory of the mulberry, which sustained the production of silk in the area; it recovered the tradition of horse breeding of the Estate.
One of the goals of the Foundation is to support local economic development. The types of activities and services entities created by the local community offers with the support of the Foundation in the Estate range from hippo therapy to cycle tourism, gastronomy events and theater shows.
The Foundation is responsible for the public visits and the merchandising and decided to externalize this service to a social cooperative created by the volunteers from the advocacy group that supported the public buyout of the Estate, Agenda 21 for Carditello. In 2019–2020, the Estate hosted a total of 18.200 visitors; the Foundation also supports the creation of local social start/ups or cooperatives.92
One proposal by a local startup, consisting in the organization of hot air balloon tours over the Estate, turned out to be very popular and contributed to build a new heritage narrative for Carditello, flying away/elevating from the past and watching the Estate from a fresh perspective (Interview with the Director of the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello, November 30, 2021). Regarding the financial capacity, the Foundation benefits from revenues from the membership, concessions and sales services covers the expenditure for maintenance.
A different case of public-community partnership (where the community partnership is supported by the public actor) for cultural heritage adopting a different legal tool and policy strategy is the Civic and Collective Urban Uses policy of the City of Naples. This pioneering policy process flourished thanks to the combination of social movements and activists that occupied abandoned or underused real estate to defend public heritage from business speculation and a model of governance based on public-private partnership an enabling mayorship, a municipal bureaucracy highly motivated to find innovative solutions to promote the initiative of urban communities and the proactive initiative of groups of residents across the City willing to leverage on underused assets to promote urban arts and creativity.
Starting in 2011, the City of Naples adopted a series of local resolutions to recognize “urban civic and collective uses” of historical buildings, self-managed by local communities of social movements, residents, artists and researchers. The civic uses stem from existing informal use and management of buildings of heritage value spread across different City neighborhoods, initiated by NGOs, groups of activists, professionals in the artistic and cultural scene, artists.
The cultural heritage commons recognized by the City so far are eight: the Ex Asilo Filangieri; Ex Scuola Schipa; the EX OGP Materdei; Villa Medusa; Scugnizzo Liberato; Giardino Liberato; Ex Conservatorio Santa Maria della Fede, Lido Pola.93 The first commons to activate the process was the Ex Asilo Filangieri. A former convent occupied by cultural and artistic workers, illegally occupying the building while volunteering to put in commons assets and infrastructures for cultural production, an incubator for social initiative and a space for grassroot movement to offer exhibitions and cultural services accessible for free by every city resident.
In 2012, the City administration started a dialogue with the community which resulted in the collaborative drafting of a resolution (eventually adopted by the City Council) recognizing the right to collectively use and manage the building while ensuring democratic governance of the space and inclusiveness. Later resolutions, adopted in 2015, 2016, and 2021 recognized seven other public properties as “emerging commons, perceived by city residents as civic flourishing environments and, as such, considered by the City as assets of strategic relevance” (Naples City Council 2015; Government 2016).
To be recognized as urban commons, the spaces shall adopt a “Declaration of Urban Civic Use,”94 written by commoners and then recognized by City officers modeled on the one crafted by the Asilo Filangieri experience but tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of the community and the space.95 The novelty of the Urban Civic uses mechanism is that it grants non-exclusive rights of the inhabitants to use them and the recognition of the general assembly, and other bodies formalized in the Declaration, recognized as the open management entity of the building, such as new popular institution.96 While many of the services offered by the spaces are cultural, they also provide housing and/or informal social assistance and solidarity services.
To name a recent example, they supported the City in delivering food aid to residents in need during the first pandemic outbreak. One of the resolutions (2017) encourages city inhabitants to submit pilot projects for the improvement of underused and disused city-owned assets which can be redeveloped and transformed to welcome new and temporary (maximum 2 years) social uses (i.e., new forms of housing; urban agriculture; renovation of the City historical City Centre).
The City worked through the support of EU funded programs such as the “Civic eState” URBACT transfer network97 on encouraging forms of economic sustainability that can ensure the long-term survival of the urban commons by partnering with institutional and patient investors.
Social—Community Partnership: Catacombs in Rione Sanità, Naples
The Catacombs of San Gennaro and San Gaudioso are a large network of Paleo Christian catacombs running below the Rione Sanità in Naples. Rione Sanità is an area of the City historically affected by poverty, a strong perception of unsafety from the residents of Naples as well as visitors and unemployment of residents. Under the nudge and support of the parish, a group of young residents of the area volunteered for few years to guide tourists in the catacombs and received tips in exchange for the service.
In 2006, given the ever-growing flow of visitors, the group decided to constitute a social cooperative, named “La Paranza” so as to broaden their activities and focus on social capital development within the local community, mainly through the re-appropriation and restoration of cultural heritage, and community-led economic development.
The main driver for the constitution of the cooperative was the creation of employment opportunities (Interview with representative of La Paranza cooperative, 2018 and January 2022). In 2009, the Cooperative initiated a dialogue with the owner of the Catacombs, the Vatican and specifically the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology who agreed to sign a Convention with the Naples parish (Arcidiocesi di Napoli) and gave the catacombs in concession to the social cooperative. The concession of use boosted the cooperative's activities.
The number of visitors increased over time, from 5.160 in 2006 to more than 120.000 in 2018, and the cooperative has an important impact in terms of employment as well, from 5 employees in 2006 to 34 in 2018 to more than 50 up to date. The growth of the cooperative was encouraged by the creation of social services and recreational facilities in the district run by NGOs from Rione Sanità, including a shelter and an after-school centre, a theater workshop, an orchestra, a craft workshop, a recording studio, and a B&B.
The growth of the cooperative was boosted by the activity of local NGOs (chiefly the NGO L'Altra Napoli) interested in investing efforts to trigger a process of local development around the heritage, restore a cultural resource, create employment opportunities. The NGOs started to coordinate and eventually created a Community Foundation, the San Gennaro Community Foundation, in 2014. The Foundation has 30 members between NGOs, Not-for-profit Foundations, Bank Foundations, local parishes. The Foundation raises funds from not-for-profit grants, public grants and private donations and invest them in projects of restoration of cultural heritage assets in the district, public art and culture like urban graffiti or exhibition and urban welfare like food aid.
Adopting a commons-oriented approach in the PGCH implies the implementation of a governance model which seeks to assure the sustainability, both socially and economically, of the resource in the long-term. From the cases of PGCH analyzed, we can identify some principles and tools. Multi-actor collaboration within strategies of neighborhood/area-based commons-oriented approach to PGCH entails generating more opportunities for collaboration with other actors in the neighborhood/area.
The different types of partnership created in the cases impacted differently on the governance model of a commons inspired PGCH. A fully realized model of Public-private-knowledge-community partnership (CPC) which is suggested by the literature on knowledge-based innovation processes and to which the Co-Roma experimentation is inspired to would foresee the University; Informal community (city residents); NGOs; neighborhood level/city/public administration involved in an institutionalized partnership.
The model seems to be realized but only through a loose relationship (perhaps also due to the immaturity of the case); a Knowledge (university)—Community partnership, that we can observe in both the Heritage Community cases. Institutionalized mechanisms like the Participatory Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello or the Community Foundation for San Gennaro, coupled with a community cooperative or neighborhood cooperative are examples of the public-community partnership (PCP) that initiated with a community promoting awareness of the cultural value of the heritage site and advocating for public actors to take actions. In some cases, it emerged that the organizations lack that institutional and entrepreneurial capacity necessary to ensure the endurance and sustainability in the long run.
At an organizational level, a risk of capture of the community actor by the private and public partner and the reproduction of static hierarchical phenomena have also been perceived. The community/neighborhood cooperative, which is the legal form mostly adopted in the cases when local communities evolve from volunteering organizations to professional organization with the goal to create employment conditions, is not devoid of pitfalls: it has to balance the non-profit vocation of the work and the economic sustainability, and the rebate mechanism generates competitiveness and inequalities among the shareholders based on their individual productivity. But the analysis of these topics is out of the scope of this paper, as each of these challenges would deserves a specific in-depth study of the root causes of the problems and the solutions to be advanced.
The public actors reacted positively and proactively took responsibility by purchasing the asset, taking are of the renovation works and then promoting the creation of a Foundation to coordinate the efforts of the public actors at the state, regional and city scale. The cases also use statutory tools for “social partnership” introduced by the Public Procurement Code (Legislative Decree no. 50/2016) and by the Code of the Third Sector (Legislative Decree n. 117, 2017).
While the first piece of legislation enacts public-social, public-community partnerships (PPP), the latter empowers third sector organizations pursuing a social utility with certain prerogatives, such as co-designing and planning98 tools for specific services and interventions with the competent public administration, including in the cultural sector. These tools are devised for bridging the gap between the unorganized civil society and the public sector in view of participatory processes and their application has the potential of ensuring co-management and/or co-ownership of common resources by the citizens.
Multi-actor collaboration unlocks the potential of the actors to use a wide set of legal, policy, economic tools that are a necessary feature when dealing with the complexity of under-valued cultural heritage. These legal forms may represent functional tools in order to guarantee to these practices social and economic sustainability in the long term, empowering the community, that becomes an autonomous subject able to dialogue and interact with the other actors but also the public in safely engaging in multi-actor partnership while respecting the laws and procedures that apply to the cases especially in case of public property and maintaining a role of enabler of democratic governance.
We can identify four dimensions of a multi-actor model of PGCH, adapting from the framework we previously built for the urban commons and applied by us with other authors to urban tech and citizen science.99
The four dimensions are useful to summarize the main elements of the model and they are incremental, mirroring the different level of intensity and communities' empowerment that the co-governance entail.
The first sub-dimension is opening of the access to culture and cultural heritage. The assumption is that, in order for ordinary city inhabitants to cooperate across social and economic differences, they must each have equal access to the cultural heritage. The creation of an Heritage Community seems to be a useful first step in bringing together a diversity of people to self-organize and creating the condition to increase the access of local communities and visitors to enclosed cultural heritage assets. This seems to be the most important output related to the implementation of the Faro Convention. The formal recognition granted by the Faro Convention does not seem to be relevant. The contribution of the Faro Convention network in terms of connecting experiences and of the Faro Convention Implementation Plan and the process of self-assessment to become a Heritage Community and knowledge transfer about tools like heritage walks is recognized as a key contribution in the Naples and Rome cases.
Co-governance of culture and cultural heritage can be assessed measuring the participation of the city inhabitants/communities in projects/initiatives. This can happen with the promotion of self-organization of communities around those projects/initiatives. The participation subdimensions can be measured through the mapping of experiences of urban policies that promotes participation of city inhabitants into the production/decision-making/management of cultural services, infrastructures and even policies that promote urban communities' self-organization. One key component of developing the Naples resolutions was the establishment in 2017 of a renewed Observatory of Urban commons and participatory democracy designed to be a platform for deliberations and negotiations around existing collective use and management of occupied buildings in the City. The Observatory provided a site for local officials to collaborate with communities or users who were informally managing occupied buildings, and to participate in co-working sessions to design the resolutions for the recognition of civic uses. Methodologies like urban laboratories and living lab are an important tool to enable and support agglomeration of actors needed to activate a process of creation of a cultural heritage commons. This emerges clearly from the Heritage Communities in Naples and Rome as well as in the Civic and Collective Urban Uses case. However, the purpose and features of the labs operate somewhat differently in the distinct approaches. In Naples, the Labs do not play a role in facilitating activities. Rather, self-organization occurs through various bottom-up processes by participants themselves who later join with city officials and other actors to collaborate and pool resources. The local community animating the spaces makes an intensive use of assemblies, fora and other participatory decision-making mechanisms. In the case of Carditello, the Community Foundation or social cooperatives (in both Naples and Rome) there is a narrower use of tools, mostly informal dialogue and daily work with local community representatives and workshops to identify and work with emerging local entrepreneurs.
Co-creation and Cooperation
This dimension measures the presence of defined roles and responsibilities for civic actors/communities. This form of involvement may also imply the creation of job opportunities and re-distribution or revenues flows generating from users and/or tourists. Neighborhood-area inhabitants are involved in the management of infrastructures or services beyond their activity as volunteers. To avoid the risk of discriminating against fragile individuals or historically marginalized communities in the area, the presence of a knowledge or social actor to provide learning and training resources as well as co-working facilitation is important. This dimension emerges in community-led projects that contribute to the management of certain services and infrastructures, as observed in the Co-Roma process, when urban communities take advantage of existing infrastructures to improve services offered. A community/neighborhood cooperative like the one involved in the Catacombs case is based on a legal and organizational form, in principle capable of allowing the economic and social sustainability of the resource. They are a jointly owned, democratic-controlled and locally rooted enterprise; usually pursue objectives of general interest, profits cannot be redistributed, and it is composed by a plurality of individuals who can contribute as they desire as long as they operate in accordance with the aims set. The cooperative works in close collaboration with the broader network of social actors and NGOs that supports the Community Foundation and the private owner of the resource, while there is a dialogue with the public administration. In the Civic Uses case, the local community works in close cooperation with city officials and designed an institutional model based on a management assembly, a steering assembly, thematic tables (e.g., theater, visual arts) and a Declaration of Civic and Collective Urban Uses. Those interested in using the spaces' resources and infrastructures submit a proposal to the Management Assembly, then the issue is discussed in public meetings adopting deliberative democracy techniques and other methods.100 A steering assembly defines the general guidelines or rules for the chosen activities, approves fundraising and crowdfunding initiatives, oversees expenditures and other economic management decisions. The Declaration entails provisions to ensure that the use of the facility is open to every city resident who wishes to contribute or make use of the space for public interest purposes. The mechanism is supported by the commitment of both parts to use the space to realize activities that are not only economically profitable, but that generates several forms of return for the community, for example in terms of cultural services. In the case of Asilo Filangieri, for example, the yearly fixed costs in 2014/2015 amounted to around 315.000 euros, but the quantity and quality of exhibitions and cultural services offered free of charge to visitors was considered by the City to be of a greater value, also in comparison to other cultural public offerings in the City (Interview with Officer from the City of Naples, June 2016).
Control, Ownership, Property
This variable investigates whether the skills and tools that the community acquires are directly used in an entrepreneurial way. This would configure a system of decentralized heritage community enterprises. The model, indeed, of the combination of public, private, community and social, knowledge actors and a combination of a Foundation, a community/neighborhood cooperative seems to be functional in terms of inclusive governance and economic sustainability of a complex cultural heritage commons. In the Rione Sanità for example, the process of restoration and creation of new heritage values entails intervention on both tangible and intangible aspects and requires the cooperation of several actors, albeit the property being private and the management of the resources being formally assigned to a subject. The community cooperative La Paranza, for instance, has been in operation for 15 years and it has contributed to the preservation of a cultural resource that otherwise would have been under-exploited, and its value lost, and to the relaunch of the entire neighborhood enhancing the community and creating new economies and job opportunities for all the neighborhood inhabitants in an area where the 60% of them is unemployed. The cooperative led the way for the creation of new NGOs and small enterprises in the district and it employs directly 39 people. Along with the Community Foundation's activities of fund raising for the restoration of cultural assets, communication campaigns and delivery of arts exhibition and cultural services it also indirectly contributes to creating employment opportunities in the Rione. The attention to the human capital and local development is crucial for the cooperative, which offers on-the-jobs trainings and scholarships for its employees, who are mostly socio-economically vulnerable individuals, with a view to equip them with the expertise necessary for becoming a guide of the district. Also, the case of the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello represents an interesting example of commons-oriented case of PGCH which has determined the regeneration and development of a territory until that moment completely forgotten and of its community of belonging, which has played, since the beginning, a significant role. The process of restoration and the creation of the Foundation is the result of a huge contribution from the local community and activation of a large number of residents of the neighborhood/area.101
As Ostrom teaches, governing the commons means adopting a governance model that is sustainable, from different viewpoints.102 If on the one hand the role of public actors remains fundamental in ensuring the continuity in time of such self-governance models, on the other hand, also the community which is actively involved in the management of the resource should be responsible and act collectively in order to ensure the sustainability of the intervention. At the same time, legal tools specifically crafted or already existing can facilitate the cooperation.
For example, in Naples the mechanism of Civic Uses preserves the public ownership of the cultural heritage sites while also allowing the communities to benefit also economically from them, by granting them a non-exclusive right of use. However, these legal tools need to be supported by appropriate financial tools and new partnerships in order to make commons-oriented cases of PGCH long enduring.
Participation, community involvement, territorial integration, local sustainable development, are all recurring words in the European documents and an ever-growing role has been given to individuals also in the cultural field. Communities, indeed, are now seen as possible and strong allies of public institutions in the design and delivery of social services and/or goods, and in the governance of cultural assets at the local level, especially considering the value of cultural heritage for society as emphasized by the Faro Convention.
An example of a similar approach within heritage-led urban regeneration strategies is the national policy “Culture Urban Future” promoted by the Italian Ministry of Culture in 2019. It allocates 25 million € through a call for proposal addressing neighborhood libraries and public schools. The proposal must be submitted by a multi-actor partnership where the school/library creates a partnership with local social enterprises, private actors and NGOs to carry out renovation works in underused parts of the library/school spaces. The projects shall offer new cultural community services and generate new neighborhood social enterprises.
With the cases presented in this paper, we show that PGCH can take the form of commons-inspired partnerships through complexity of actors and legal/governance tools. Commons-oriented PGCH is sustained by different governance, policy and legal tools and different multi-stakeholder arrangements.
The appropriate tool to use may depend on the needs and capacities of the actors involved and must be adapted to the specific local conditions. The cultural heritage commons are supported by institutionalized governance, policy and legal tools that allowed the cooperation to work in the public interest. When different categories of actors come into play and when the heritage asset involved is a complex resource and requires a certain number of resources and commitment for its restoration and maintenance, the process becomes more complex and may require crafting specific legal and policy tools.
Multi-actor partnerships that foresee a variety of legal tools, ideally a combination of an NGO, an entrepreneurial vehicle, an institutional mechanism like a Foundation, innovations like civic and collective uses prove capable to carry out the restoration and valorization of underused cultural heritage assets, provide effective solutions to local needs and offer new opportunities for heritage-led growth.
We ultimately argue that, when implemented in this way, PGCH is a great opportunity for a wide variety of actors but chiefly local communities to create and experiment innovative solutions to current challenges related to heritage as well as “to foster democratic participation, sustainability and social cohesion and to face the social, political and demographic challenges of today.”103
In Italy, experimentations of PGCH are generating impact in terms of conservation, restoration and valorization of cultural heritage, also by increasing its value, promoting community empowerment, territorial integration and development. Although management models and approaches may vary in each case, and given that they do not always stem from a shared and deliberate strategy, we would point out the relevance of developing management skills and an entrepreneurial attitude within the organization itself; this is a crucial element in order to ensure a consistency between objectives-resources-actions-results, an effective implementation of the legal tools, and therefore a successful achievement of sustainability at its different levels.
However, the relation with public institutions remains essential. State or City actors work well when they not only act as facilitators in developing the right conditions for the implementation of PGCH but also take a proactive part, for example by creating a Foundation that support the work of Heritage Communities, NGOs, social enterprises, providing technical expertise and procedural support. The concept of “enabling State” seems appropriate, referring to public authorities that supports and lays down conditions to empower all the actors involved.104
These features of the multi-actor partnership resemble what one author described as a P4, or public-private-people partnership for cultural heritage, which highlights the role of banking foundations as philanthropic actors supplying resources in a policy sector hardly hit by financial hardships.105
Like with commons-oriented PGCH, the local community's participation is directed not only at non-profit objectives, where investment return is not necessarily guaranteed and people act with a certain degree of informality and voluntarism. A commons-based approach to PGCH oriented toward communities' empowerment should try to enable forms of multi-actor partnerships (ideally, PPCP), supported by institutional and legal diversity, whereby the community actors are proactively involved in the design process and co-management of the service or infrastructure provided, and they are empowered with ownership and benefits sharing; public actors are involved with an enabling role; a wide range of social and knowledge actors provides technical expertise, supports the process with research and experimentation and promotes knowledge transfer toward the neighborhoods/local areas affected.
Data Availability Statement
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/Supplementary Material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author/s.
This article is the product of a collaborative work. All authors contributed equally to the design and overall efforts to produce the paper and are collectively responsible for the following paragraphs: Introduction; The legal and policy landscape of PGCH and the international and European Union Scale; Arguments in defence and against a commons framework for the governance of cultural heritage; Methods; Social-Community partnership: Catacombs in Rione Sanita, Naples; Conclusions. MS is responsible for the following paragraph: The national context: between (tentative) policies and (spread) practices. CI is responsible for the following paragraphs: A multi-actor partnership to support commons-inspired institutions for PGCH; Insights from an ongoing experimentation of a Public-Private-Community partnership: the Co-Roma process. ED is responsible for the following paragraphs: Faro Heritage Community in Naples; Public Community and Community-Public Partnerships: the Royal Estate of Carditello (San Tammaro) and the Civic and Collective Urban Uses (Naples); Discussion.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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An earlier version of this article was presented by MS and CI at the conference Cultures of participation. Arts, digital media and politics, held in April 2018 in Aarhus and organized by the Take Part research network on cultural participation. Earlier reflections of the analytical framework on the co-governance of culture and cultural heritage as a commons were presented by CI at the 3rd IASC Conference on knowledge commons', held in Paris in October 2016, co-organized by the INCLUSIVE team at Sciences Po Paris and the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC). Earlier reflections on the role of the Faro Convention and the implementation of heritage communities as commons institutions with insights from the case of Rome were presented by ED at the Faro Convention Network meeting held by the Council of Europe office in Venice (December 2019). The authors thank the conferences' conveners, participants, office members (especially Luisella Pavan-Woolfe and Francesc Pla) and all Faro Convention network members (especially Prosper Wanner and Ed Carroll) for their precious comments. Early drafts of the paper received comments also by Aldo Sandulli, Gaël Giraud Maria Portugal, Mark Thatcher. Eleonora di Giovene and Gaia Daldanise. With their perspectives and experience, these scholars enriched this paper incommensurably. We owe gratitude to the team of volunteers and civic entrepreneurs of the Centocelle Heritage Community involved in the Co-Roma case study as main actors (especially the members of the CPPC, CooperACTiva, Fusolab) or that are part of the neighborhood community and contributed to journey (especially the Biblioteca Rugantino and Comitato di Torre Spaccata); representatives from Faro Naples; the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello, the Foundation for the San Gennaro Catacombs and the Cooperativa La Paranza; city officers of the City of Naples, the scholars and activists involved with the experience of the Urban Civic and Collective Uses of Naples (especially Fabio Pascape, Nicola Masella and Giuseppe Micciarelli). Their example was motivating and their generosity in sharing time, experience, knowledge unparalleled. The authors wish to thank the five reviewers for their insightful comments, that allowed the paper to improve significantly. The authors acknowledge the outstanding work of Benedetta Gillio, who provided invaluable research assistance and conducted a first of round of interviews to the case studies illustrated within the article. The authors thanks Valeria Comegna for excellent research assistance on EU policies on the participatory governance of cultural heritage and for the support with the interviews and editing process. They also thank Stefania Hrle Aiello for assistance with the data collection related to the Co-Roma case. The open access publication of this article was supported by the project “Organizing, Promoting and ENabling HEritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment” (Open Heritage) that has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776766.
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frsc.2022.777708/full#supplementary-material
4. ^The mechanism of recognition of World Heritage sites proved problematic in terms of the rights of communities living nearby the sites in some areas, for instance Sub-Saharian Africa. See Folarin (2020). In other areas, for instance Central and Latin America oer Oceania, the participation and empowerment of indigenous people is at the centre of a rich and wide literature. See Lixinski (2020).
9. ^Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, adopted in Faro on 27 October 2005, ETS n. 199. Entry into force on 1 June 2011, in accordance with Article 18. Ratified by the Italian Parliament on September 23, 2020.
11. ^At the international level, the right of participation in culture is rooted in Article 27 of the UN Human Rights Declaration of 1948 (UDHR) [The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); Article 15, para. 1, litera a] of the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 (ICESCR) [The United Nations General Assembly, International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966). The term participation in cultural life may well be read in the wider sense as to encompass the concept of cultural heritage. Article 15, para. 1, litera a] ICESCR is formulated in even broader terms, for it does not go beyond stating the existence – inter alia—of the “right of everyone to take part in cultural life.” The UNESCO 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage clearly requires in its Article 15 that the State parties “shall endeavor to ensure the widest possible participation of communities, groups and, where appropriate, individuals to create, maintain and transmit such heritage, and to involve them actively in its management.” Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference 32nd Session, Paris, 17 October 2003. Entry into force on 20 April 2006, in accordance with Article 34.
12. ^Council of Europe Landscape Convention (ETS No. 176), Florence 20 October 2000.
13. ^Florence Convention, Art. 1. “Definitions”.
14. ^Faro Convention, Art. 2, Definitions.
16. ^Preamble of the Faro Convention.
17. ^Faro Convention (2005), Art 2.b.
20. ^Faro Convention (2005), Art 2.b.
22. ^Faro Convention section III, Article 11—The organisation of public responsibilities for cultural heritage.
23. ^Faro Convention section III, Article 11—The organisation of public responsibilities for cultural heritage.
24. ^Faro Convention section III, Article 12—The organisation of public responsibilities for cultural heritage.
25. ^Faro Convention section III, Article 11—The organisation of public responsibilities for cultural heritage.
26. ^Decision No 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033 and repealing Decision No 1622/2006/EC, OJ L 132, 3.5.2014, p. 1–12.
27. ^Decision No 445/2014/EU, cit. at 77.
28. ^Decision No 445/2014/EU, cit. at 77, 78.
29. ^Council conclusions of 26 November 2012 on Cultural Governance OJ C 393, 19.12.2012, p. 8–10 8 (2012).
30. ^Council conclusions on participatory governance of cultural heritage, OJ C 463, 23.12.2014, p. 1–3 (2014).
31. ^European Parliament resolution of 8 September 2015 towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe (2014/2149(INI)), OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 88–98 (2015).
32. ^Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, Participatory governance of cultural heritage, Report of the OMC (Open Method of Coordination) working group of Member States' experts (2018).
33. ^Participatory governance of cultural heritage, cit. at. 83.
34. ^Participatory governance of cultural heritage, cit. at. 83, 84.
35. ^Decision (EU) 2017/864 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 on a European Year of Cultural Heritage, OJ L 131, 20.5.2017, p. 1–9 (2018).
36. ^European Commission, Communication on a new European agenda for culture COM/2018/267 (2018).
37. ^In all these documents, the EU institution underlines the importance of engaging “in participatory, multi-stakeholder and integrated governance of culture and sustainable development, including through support to bottom-up initiatives by cultural and creative sectors and active involvement of citizens” Resolution of the Council of the European Union and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on the Cultural Dimension of Sustainable Development (2019/C 410/01), at 88.
38. ^Horizon Europe—Work Programme 2021-2022 Culture, creativity and inclusive society, at 42.
40. ^Most of these initiatives are aimed at increasing awareness and producing theory-informed recommendations. For example, the project “Approaches to participatory governance of cultural institutions,” carried out by Kultura Nova Foundation in Croatia and supported by UNESCO's Cultural Diversity Fund (June 2016–June 2018), aimed at mapping the most innovative participatory governance practices and cultural institutions in Croatia and Europe, and identifying possible participatory governance models in culture. In the paper “Engaging local communities in Stewardship of World Heritage,” UNESCO calls for community engagement at all stages of the World Heritage process, by learning experience from the Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) methodology.. The guide-book “Community Involvement in Heritage Management,” published in cooperation with the Joint Project European Union/Council of Europe COMUS and EUROCITIES proposes a theoretical background and case-studies and provides practical examples in some areas:. In 2017, the UNESCO publication“Engaging civil society in cultural governance” about the monitoring of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, claimed for a more collaborative cultural governance.
41. ^A recent initiative of UCLG culminated in “The 2020 Rome Charter. The Right to Participate Fully and Freely in Cultural Life is vital to our Cities and Communities,” with a manifesto on culture as a driver for a bottom-up and people-centred sustainable development. In 2014, together with a network of international organisations committed to culture, UCLG signed the “Declaration on the Inclusion of Culture in the Sustainable Development Goals” in order to push for recognition of culture as an enabler of sustainable development policies and strategies (also recognising PG).
42. ^Rome Declaration of The G20 Ministers Of Culture, Rome 29-30 July 2021.
43. ^Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972); Recommendation Concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas (1976); Recommendation on Traditional Culture and Folklore (1989); Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003); Convention of the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005).
45. ^The Urban Agenda Partnership for Heritage Final Action plan mentions a handful of projects conducting experimentations with the co-governance and reuse of heritage assets: the CLIC project; the Generative Commons project; the Open Heritage project; the RURITAGE project; the ROCK project; the CLLD project. See the Final Action Plan of the Partnership on Culture/Cultural Heritage, at 54, file:///Users/ed831/Downloads/final_action_plan_culture_cultural_heritage.pdf
46. ^Communication From the Commission to The European Parliament, The European Council, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee And The Committee Of The Regions, The European Green Deal, Com/2019/640 Final.
51. ^For Madison and others, cultural commons are constructed in the sense that “their creation, existence, operation and persistence are matters not of pure accident or random chance, but instead of emergent social process and institutional design.” Madison et al. (2010).
52. ^S. R. Foster, C. Iaione, Ostrom in the City: Design Principles for the Urban Commons.
55. ^Lee Ann Fennell, Agglomerama, 2014 BYU L. REV. 1373, 1382 (2015).
58. ^P. G. Gould, Considerations on Governing Heritage as a Commons Resource, cit. at. 49.
69. ^M. J. Madison, B. M. Frischmann, K. J. Strandburg, Constructing Commons in the cultural environment, cit. at 47.
83. ^Law 1 October 2020, n. 133. An indirect recognition of PGCH in the Italian legal system could be reconstructed from Article 9 of the Italian Constitution read in conjunction with Art. 118, last para. of the Italian Constitution. While in light of Art. 9 “the Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific and technical research, [..] protects the landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the nation,” under Art. 118, last para. Of the Italian Constitution, enshrining the principle of horizontal subsidiarity, the State and the administrative bodies are called to “encourage the autonomous initiative of citizens, individuals and associates, to carry out activities of general interest.” The promotion of culture and its development falls within the notion of activity of general interest.
85. ^Starting 2015, this research was included within a broader research project ‘Smart City and Community' (2015–2018) funded by the Italian National Agency for research on renewable energies ENEA. The annual research reports are available (in Italian) here: https://www.enea.it/it/Ricerca_sviluppo/lenergia/ricerca-di-sistema-elettrico/accordo-di-programma-MiSE-ENEA-2015-2017/efficienza-energetica-negli-usi-finali/smart-city-smart-community
87. ^See the list of active members of the Faro Convention network here: https://www.coe.int/en/web/culture-and-heritage/faro-active-members
88. ^https://openheritage.eu/timeline/co-roma-joins-the-faro-convention-network-2/and https://www.coe.int/en/web/culture-and-heritage/faro-active-members/-/asset_publisher/E3FT1EVQJST8/content/co-roma?_101_INSTANCE_E3FT1EVQJST8_viewMode=view/
92. ^Social Responsibility Reporting of the Foundation for the Royal Estate of Carditello, https://www.fondazionecarditello.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/CAR_bilancio_21_web_rid.pdf
93. ^Detailed information about the eight cultural urban commons in Naples are available in the Transferability Study, Civic eState Pooling the urban commons. CiviceState.eu: http://22.214.171.124/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/g.Civic_eState_Trasferability_Study.pdf
94. ^The Declaration is available (Italian) here: exasilofilangieri.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/dichi-arazione-duso-civico-e- collettivo-urbano-dicembre-2015-.pdf
98. ^See Art. 55 of Decree no. 50/2016.
101. ^The experience of the PostModernissimo cinema is promising for further research on this aspect. In Perugia (Umbria) in 2017 a privately owned, dismissed movie theatre was reactivated by a group of friends active in the entertainment space. in collaboration with the family of owned the movie theatre and the building, the group of friends launched a crowdfunding campaign for the renovation works. The campaign had an unexpected success and raised 40.000 euros. The group matched the funding with a loan and EU grants, carried out the renovation and started running the movie theatre through a social enterprise (Anonima Impresa Sociale). The case has proven successful in terms of cultural and socio-economic regeneration of an abandoned area and civic engagement, since the success of the movie theatre offer generated a flow of visitors and contributed to the reopening/new openings of locally-owned commercial activities in the block.
103. ^Council conclusions on participatory governance of cultural heritage, OJ C 463, 23.12.2014, p. 1–3 (2014).
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Keywords: commons, cultural heritage, heritage communities, open heritage, public private community partnership, participation, co-ownership, neutrality of legal forms
Citation: Iaione C, De Nictolis E and Santagati ME (2022) Participatory Governance of Culture and Cultural Heritage: Policy, Legal, Economic Insights From Italy. Front. Sustain. Cities 4:777708. doi: 10.3389/frsc.2022.777708
Received: 15 September 2021; Accepted: 09 March 2022;
Published: 26 May 2022.
Edited by:Gregory Patrick Trencher, Kyoto University, Japan
Reviewed by:Stelios Lekakis, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Mara Cerquetti, University of Macerata, Italy
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