Imagine seminar with Carmelo Mazza

Imagine seminar with Carmelo Mazza: The Invention of a Festival in a World Heritage Site: Logic, Actors, Actions

Fredag, 12 september, 2014 - 11:00 to 13:00


A World Heritage site is a perfect object to study how arts and management may collide. On one side, UNESCO sets significant constraints and demanding goals engaging both cultural organizations and local administration. On the other side, expectations of increased revenues from tourism rise the need of proper site management. Within the New Institutional approach to organizations studies, competing or multiple institutional logics have been largely referred as triggers for these clashes (Greenwood and Suddaby, 2006; Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury, 2012). Variety of strategic action by the professional groups, leading to different institutional work (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006; Lawrence, Suddaby and Leca, 2009), have been also referred upon as a key factor explaining conflicts.

Those approaches tend to investigate contexts where well established professional groups are in action. This is very often the case of well acknowledged cultural settings. In this paper, I propose to look at a different context where weak ties among loosely coupled cultural organizations, local administration and other local actor prevail: the Basilica di San Michele Arcangelo at Monte Sant’Angelo (Apulia, Italy) in 2011 included in UNESCO World Heritage List (WHL).

Including a site in UNESCO WHL can be a main institutional accomplishment for a small village in the South of Italy. It also requires a novel attention to cultural projects and events and a new model of partnership among local administrations and cultural institutions. In this paper, the WHL site is the arena where relations among existing institutional actors in cultural field are reconfigured and new institutional actors emerge, get institutionalized and become a tradition. In particular, I focus my research attention on the institutional logics paving the way to the emergence of a novel cultural organization that became in a few years the champion in the new cultural events of the whole Apulia Region. It is the case of the rise and transformation of a local festival, Festambiente Sud, organized by the nation-wide green organization Legambiente, turning into the key cultural event of the territory.

I claim that this peculiar empirical analysis may help shed light on some interesting dynamics in the management of cultural organizations. First, it shows how the needs for cultural heritage management (triggered by UNESCO WHL process) is a potential factor for field transformation. In the case of Monte Sant’Angelo, it clearly works as a (cultural) jolt (Greenwood and Suddaby, 2006) opening space for new projects and events. Second, it accounts for the emergence of a new cultural institution marking a discontinuity with the previous models of relation with local administrations. In the case of Festambiente Sud, the cultural event developed as a platform above and beyond local politics and funding constraints although fully rooted in Monte Sant’Angelo identity. Third, it narrates how a multi-disciplinary artistic festival survives by meeting the requirements of conflicting institutional logics by oscillating between conformity to local actors and the affirmation of a cultural identity of its own.

Sidst opdateret: Department of Organization // 17/12/2017