Journal article Open Access

Models of Public Private Partnership and financial tools for the cultural heritage valorisation

Allegro Ivo; Lupu Aliona

The cultural heritage, which represents one of the classic examples of the economic category of “common good” belonging to each citizen of a certain place and very frequently constituting an identity character of a community,
traditionally receives funding, primarily for the purpose of its preservation,
from public sector. Different recent societal, environmental and technological factors are changing the cultural citizen needs and we are assisting at a slow paradigm shift in the addressed industry.

Indeed, the growing economic and social progress, also in developing countries, contributes to expand the cultural needs and interests among different bracket of the population with a particular increase in the demand of cultural goods and services.
At the same time, the spread of technology contributes to enjoy cultural goods in a completely new and innovative way, never imagined before.
In this context, paradoxically, the top-down public policies, often too much concentrated on preservation and not very attentive to the exploitation of cultural heritage potential and the catchment the new trends, become inefficient. In a period of increasing pressure on public budgets, this activates the perverse spiral of increasingly inadequate investments because of scarce available resources in the hands of the public decisionmaker that generate insufficient allocation of funds and, as a result, the growing ineffectiveness
of spending in the sector. This situation in the medium term leads to the
depletion of a non-trivial part of the cultural heritage, including its immaterial values, and, too often, to the use of the private hand at a late stage and with incorrect logics that brings, not infrequently, to the disposal of the cultural heritage “for sale” or to the denial of its fruition.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) can represent a third way between the exclusively public intervention, more and more anachronistic and inefficient given the budget constraints, and the recourse to the privatization of cultural heritage that often allows making cash but not without side effects. The latter
can be both of economic nature, through a “cherry picking” approach by the private sector that leaves less interesting goods in public hands, as well as of social nature, especially those linked to the inaccessibility of privatised goods or to the high costs of use, which in the medium term impoverishes the community of powerful instruments of collective memory and identity.

After more than 30 years of use of PPP in various sectors, it has been understood that this powerful tool is not the panacea that magically
allows to solve the limits of publicintervention, but an attractive and delicate
tool, especially in cases where the public hand is the only or the main purchaser of services provided in PPP (as in the case of interventions on cultural heritage that represent cold investments that are not able to be financial free standing and that therefore require prevalent or significant public contributions).
In this perspective, this article suggests that an hybrid approach of different actors involvement (public, private and civil), of different models (governance, business and financial) and of different innovation tools deployment in a holistic perspective aims at becoming a concrete solution for the valorisation
of the cultural heritage and, more generally, of the cultural industry itself.
The first constraints in adopting the proposed approach are linked to the twofold function public administration is obliged to accomplish, that is the physical and cultural content preservation and the valorisation of the public good. The valorisation stands for the dissemination of cultural good related
knowledge and its public fruition, also through adaptive reuse – that sometimes can contrast with the preservation challenge.
This dilemma, indeed, can find one or more solutions only through a holistic approach that allows to create value for all the actors involved. We can refer here to the concept of shared value “which focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress” [Porter & Kramer].
The economic and financial sustainability in the management process of the cultural heritage and its preservation represents another relevant constraint.

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