The cultural exception. Or how communication can make a difference

Culture: a product like any other or a sector to be protected? The debate raised last year is still open but a possible solution comes just from communication because, whichever way you see it, there is no value for culture if not that of being made accessible to all

Some time ago, the elegant French Minister of Culture Aurelie Filippetti made a statement that in a short time managed to raise a small dialectic earthquake in the European institutional field. The cultural product, Filippetti argued, quietly but firmly, cannot and should not be subject to the same rules and logics of the market that are valid for every other marketable commodity. Metaphors aside, the point was to maintain culture and its industry outside the range of treaties pertaining to free trade between Europe and the United States, by restricting imports and maintaining programs of state support to the sector.

Are these new forms of protectionism to contrast the U.S. domination of entertainment or a proud claim of a different view, distinctly European, about the role and social function of culture? For the record, the French Minister and other supporters of the cultural exception had it their way, getting also the support of the European Parliament, but the answer to this question has been left hanging.

What is certain is that culture is now fully embedded within the most modern economic theories as a parameter of wealth to all extents. And therefore communication in this area can become a real factor of enhancement for products, services and consumption, which, as the cultural ones, bring progress and prosperity perhaps less visible but certainly more durable. Not only: it can help restore Europe's vocation and ability to chart a new path of development, which in culture itself finds its mainstay, also in terms of pure political and social marketing.

Culture, in short, as a real development factor, provided of course that is readily made accessible to all. Because, as Eco reminds us in his interview, to produce consciousness and collective memory, making knowledge accessible is not enough; we rather need to address and give shape to it, to select it for the good of everyone, avoiding the pitfalls of a new subjugation due to an excess of digital democracy.



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