During the course of the Florens Forum, Axel Ritenis, Editor of Connoisseur Magazine was fortunate enough to meet and interview the man who conceived The Florens Forum 2010 Project, Giovanni Gentile, president of the Organizational Committee and Confindustria Firenze.
1) Buon giorno Giovanni, congratulations on the success of the Forum, You have an impressive list of Speakers, Delegates and participants, it’s a huge job to organize such a project. What is the thinking and rationale behind it?
In 2008 the worldwide economic crisis caused to the overall economic picture to witness losses ranging from forty to fifty percent. We needed to find a new kind of winning economy. We live in an area that we really need to work on, Florence is an immense cultural storehouse, but it seemed that all of this wealth was not being used in the right way. We need to reinterpret it – reinvent it.
2) And how did You manage to convince your partners and stakeholders in this project to support Your bold plans?
I advanced the idea and I began collecting initial support. Then, the framework became more substantial and it currently embraces a multi-faceted network of cultural and economic interests. Florens 2010 is certainly an initiative linked to industrial politics which brings together the economy and culture.
Giovanni Gentile has been President of Confindustria Firenze since 2007 and he is President of Florens 2010.
He is President of “Le Lettere”, a publishing house founded by him in 1976. He is also President of “Licosia”, an organization that under his guide became the italian leading company in the publishing sector and one of the most important in the European market.
He began his career in the publishing sector working for publishing houses in England and France. He was also Director General of the publishing house Sansoni and he cooperated with the Geographic Institute De Agostini in Novare. He also holds other positions including: Governmental Representative in the Board of Directors of the University of Florence, President of the bank “Federico Del Vecchio”; member of the Honor Committee of the XXVI Biennale della Mostra Mercato Internazionale dell’Antiquariato; partner of the “Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze” Foundation; Board Member of the Association “Amici degli Uffizi”; member of the Board of the “Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario Viesseux”; member of the Board of the Association “Amici Casa Buonarroti”.
3) How has the Economic Crisis affected Tuscany and Florence in general? Has there been a drop in Tourism, are your members at the Confindustria Firenze reporting bad company results? How significant has the downturn been?
The crisis has forced us to profoundly re-think entrepreneurial consumption and the re-positioning of all our productive systems. The role of the environmentally-sound “Green Economy” is gaining increased importance when it comes to changing productive systems in order to consume fewer environmental resources.
4) What about harnessing Your cultural heritage, the local gastronomy, history and art, all facets of this cultural heritage, not to mention the work of the Artisans and craftsmen here in Florence and other centres? Is this what you want to develop into this so called “Golden Economy”?
Indeed, Florence has launched a very ambitious idea: the economics of cultural heritage can become a new, winning productive paradigm and a powerhouse for industrial development. The idea is to develop a district dedicated to cultural and environmental heritage that will become a “Golden Economy”. We are working to set up a Foundation that can support this developmental project.
Axel Ritenis, Editor, Connoisseur Magazine