19 August 2020

Something's moving in the Italian contemporary art scene: the Trust for Contemporary Art


Giulia Cipollini
Partner | IT

On 23 July was constituted the “Trust for Contemporary Art”, a trust aimed at promoting contemporary art in Bologna in order to drive the city towards the most important contemporary art capitals in Europe.

Settlors of the Trust for Contemporary Art are local important financial institutions, namely Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna, Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna and Bologna Fiere (the letter is also one of the organizers of Arte Fiera, Italy’s most famous and historical art fair). The three settlors agreed to contribute into the trust an amount of total 90.000€ (to be contributed in the trust each year for the first 3 years of life of the trust, starting from 2020). Such funds will be used to the initial support of the Trust’s initiatives. It is expected that the trust will be able to raise more money from private donors in the next years. The beneficiary of the trust is the Municipality of Bologna.

The Trust has four main targets: bringing s.c. “big shows” in the city, in order to attract artists from all over the world and improve contemporary artistic researches; promoting knowledge of local historical contemporary artists and artistic experiences; opening new art residencies; providing local museums and cultural institutions with sufficient funds to enlarge their contemporary art collections (the practice of raising funds from private donors to purchase new artworks is well known among American museums while still little practiced in Italy, even though Italian contemporary artists are usually cheaper than their American colleagues).

The use of a trust structure in the sector of public and cultural initiatives is an evidence of innovation. In particular, some advantages of using a trust are the ability to raise financial resources from crowdfunding allowing to manage them independently and in full disclosure at the same time. In fact, the funds will be administered by an independent trustee, selected amongst the best professionals, under the supervision of a guardian/protector. In addition to that, planning and selection of the initiatives to be funded will be carried out by two scientific committees, made up of high profile experts in the fields of art and culture. The particular composition of the Trust will grant it necessary independency to realize the best projects. As a result, it will be easier to collect donations from private donors.

Most of Italy’s most important cultural institutions are public and the participation of private subjects in the cultural sector has been long debated. Yet in recent years there have been important reforms which allowed Italian museums to get closer to international standard practices, granting them more independency from the Government and providing more financial resources. All this considered, the constitution of one of the first trusts specifically committed to fund public art initiatives should be saluted as a further step towards such standards. One other aspect which is worth mentioning is the attention dedicated to contemporary art, which still needs to be implemented by public institutions.

We hope the setting up of the Trust for Contemporary Art will lead to new similar initiatives and set the conditions for the implementation of the Italian contemporary art scene and its market, allowing private subjects to find new chances for investments.

Giulia Cipollini Partner | Milan

Category: Article