Corriere Canadese

TORONTO - The signing and ceremonies done, planning for the next phase is beginning in earnest. From the Italian side, they have already begun to [re]define themselves. They are framing the next phase in terminology designed to focus on the values inherent in Basilicata culture. 

They need to convince Lucani (Domestic and Diaspora) of the transferability and merits of those values in a modern, fast-paced, globalized – and often indifferent to “societal” values – immediate “return on investment”, individual centred culture.
So, the theme captured by “art through artisanship” seems apt from their point of view. Matera is intent on promoting and exporting its historical, cultural expertise, engineering uniqueness and architectural competencies abroad.  Centuries of foreign occupation and administration have sculpted constraints on a people whose history reveals a thirst for “creative perfectionism”, and practical solutions for geological and topographical obstacles.
Despite the centuries-old “foreign administrations” they have produced enviable works of art to adorn churches and other public spaces. They are only now beginning to peel back the “veil of neglect” which until recently hid a prodigious understanding of biology and chemistry required for producing enduring works whose lucidity would defy the ravages of Time.
The people in the Municipal district of Matera are beginning to seize the moment. They are embarking upon were a renaissance of restoration that reveals pride in their own accomplishments and a realization that culture can be a source of economic activity that reawakens the creative, competitive spirit of a once international centre of learning, governance quality products and commerce.
From perspective of Toronto’s artistic community development, there is a never-ending reservoir of opportunity to practice their skills under the guidance of Masters resident in Matera, surrounding municipalities like Ferrandina, Montescaglioso or Palazzo San Gervasio.
Their Mayors revel in outlining the material available in the churches, monasteries, chapels and even caves, yes caves, whose living and habitat conditions must be seen to be believed. The entrepreneurial and political classes are combining to put out the welcome mat expat Lucani interested in bringing acquired expertise, financial know how and commercial networks back to Basilicata. 
The partnerships are there to explore, develop and consummate. Already, local entrepreneurs (individually and collectively through their professional organizations) are joining the artistic community to showcase what they can offer for distribution/investment in North America through such partnerships.
The Toronto delegation, lead by an economics professor, Frank Miele, whose background is also public administration, has already received submissions of preliminary projects from small and mid-sized businesses in the agri-food industries. Producers of Wines, Olive Oils and Cheese products were already making their case, so to speak.
What seemed to surprise Vince Crisanti and George Spezza from Toronto and their Federal counterparts, the Hon. Judy Sgro and MP Francesco Sorbara, was the growing list of large-scale manufacturers in bakery, digital products and environmental industries anxious to seek out partnerships to help them go the next step. 
The Basilicata team, which is coalescing around Michele Grieco’s guidance and that of his able and equally committed visionary, Mario Salluzi from Palazzo San Gervasio, is committed to cutting the barrier of red tape and myopia that has kept Lucani from knowing, appreciating, their past and realizing their potential in the future.
A mutually beneficial partnership with a forward-looking Toronto just may just help them build for “a future built on the confidence flowing from recognizing achievements of excellence in the past”; this is their motto. There is room in their plan for experts in the creative Arts, consumer products, the social economy, Tourism, Transportation and so on.
Toronto could have a less committed team to work with. But then what would be the point? October’s signing will be here faster than one thinks and they are developing a delegation of interested partners to whet Toronto’

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Joseph Volpe

Joseph Volpe

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