Manifesto | Culture is the beat of time

The Manifesto contains the vision that guides and connects all the activities of Parma 2020, it represents the city and its evolution and lays the foundations for an in-depth discussion on the contemporary and the future.

Mala tempora, laboriosa tempora, hoc dicunt homines. Bene vivamus, et bona sunt tempora.
Nos sumus tempora.

Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good.

We are the times. 
Dialogues - Saint Augustine

Parma, like all cities, is a living organism that breaths and develops along different time regimes.  We can see it in different places throughout the city and each conveys its different feature to citizens of all ages and cultures in a natural way: this is what English-speaking people would call “passive environmental exposure” and that permeates our lives, giving historical and social depth without us being fully aware of it.

There are many instances of "Parma” and each of them has a precise place in the genetic code of those who live in the city, each communicates something to those who come from outside, to those who come here to study, those who move here permanently, those who visit for a long or short period.  The Roman city and the Medieval one, Parma of the Renaissance and the Baroque, the Bourbon city and that of the Enlightenment, the revolutionary and Parma under the Habsburg, the peasant and entrepreneur, the city of Verdi - with the strong passions and national spirit of the melodrama – and Parma of the barricades, of deep popular traditions, Parma “Oltretorrente, Across-the-River”, and Parma the innovative and technological city: all these together and at the same time are the city where we live in.  Just walking around the streets for a few minutes, without even realising it, we pass through all these different times, stepping into a range of feelings and visions of the world that quietly breaks out from every time layer.

The experiences of the social groups that live in the city equally contribute to marking and characterising the different temporality that coexist in a city. They articulate the flow of the city by beating another kind of time: a hyper-connected or pre-digital time, related to work and rest, the time of a child, of a young or older person, or the time of foreigners or travellers.

Each experience relates to horizons of expectations that look for the opportunity to be fulfilled by the city, and a democratic city must be able to capture and protect them.  Historical and social times, naturally related to the spaces that characterise them, make up the system in which the cultural identity of contemporary Parma is played out and debated today. It is a political challenge, surely, but, first and foremost, a cultural one, as they both intend to build a city increasingly more aware and welcoming.


 We have decided to build the candidacy for Parma as Italian Capital of Culture 2020 precisely on the theme of “time”, on its regeneration through culture, on its ability to give the pace to life in the city and to break down historical and social barriers through processes of sharing and growth.

“Culture is the beat of time” means to understand culture in its broadest, most lively and fruitful sense, as key factor in the negotiation process demanded by different time and social dimensions: life in the city beats the time of culture and in doing so it favours the breakdown of historical and social divides that make dialogue difficult to carry out.

Thinking of culture as a place of “inclusion of times” means asking those who work in this field to keep memory and invention together, what is established and what is repressed, and to create common spaces to analyse the true meaning of being a community in a multicultural and modern dimension.  It means concentrating our work on and about local spaces, and on and with social groups.  It means bringing up to date a centuries-long concept and doing it through a series of tools. Through exhibitions, museums and workshops, theatre performances - which recover and update the "political" vocation of theatre, the uchronic emotion of music - which builds another type of "time", another idea of rhythm, crucial in a city like Parma - and the aggregative and imagine creating power of cinema and the new media. Or finding it in the high topicality of libraries, in meeting and exchange places such as bookshops, in the collaborative spaces of cultural enterprises and creative industries, in specific programmes designed with schools and the University.

Along these routes, not only we find the meaning of aesthetic experience in the contemporary world, but also the social and political meaning of culture, which today is more and more tied to its anthropological significance. The city of Parma proceeds with determination along this path. Therefore, the candidacy package described below presents the opportunity to come up with responses suitable for the needs of a city development model that is socially and ecologically sustainable, dialectical and constructive, backed by the important work undertaken by the Public Administration, the entrepreneurial system, the University in partnership with the major cultural institutions operating in the area and internationally recognised.  

There is no better strategy for social growth than cultural osmosis, which needs to be encouraged, and, at the same time, carefully sought after and attended to in the many folds of the city.