Culture is a vector of ideas and values; it stimulates dialogue and cooperation between individuals and cultures, it promotes an awareness of the world and cosmopolitanism. Through their settling over time, culture and history build the future, generating values which might lay at the very basis of a nation’s sense of civic duty.
Italy, thanks to the extraordinary richness of both its culture and history, undoubtedly occupies a position of primacy in this respect, as compared to other countries around the world, a capital true and proper representing on the one hand, the fundamental cultural identity of the nation and on the other, recognizing the high-profile positioned occupied by Italy on the international stage.
Raising awareness, amongst an increasingly wide audience, of the wealth and fertility of this cultural heritage, both past and present, contributes to the ethical and civil growth of the collective. Cultural promotion abroad lays the foundations for credibility and reliability, it leads to the creation of channels essential for political and economic cooperation, allowing for long-term friendships and partnerships to be built, directly serving the general interests of the nation.
The promotion of cultural heritage can also, potentially, contribute to developments in terms of both the economy and employment, insomuch as it may offer substantial employment possibilities in addition to providing a great source of enjoyment, especially for young people. It is not without reason that, today, this aspect of culture and cultural heritage tends to be fostered, elements constituting real “capital”, an instrument capable of fostering the growth of the national-system also from a purely economic perspective.
Considerations such as these compelled me, in 2003, to constitute a cultural foundation, with offices in Rome and New York, which in some way would differentiate itself from all the others flourishing in our country. For the same reason we opened an office in Minsk in Belarus.
To all intents and purposes, transforming the Italian spirit from one marked out by mere likeableness into one guaranteeing reliability, rendering the Italian model an exemplar of quality of life: this is the underlying thread running through every proposal or concrete action which the Foundation intends to implement, both within Italy and abroad.
Foedus is alliance, interaction, a sort of virtuous circle (as the logo implies) between culture, enterprise and solidarity, three elements which are also crucial factors of a political vision focusing on the fundamental worth of the individual, democracy, pluralism and the rights of mankind: a political vision which makes a stand for the development and protection of natural resources and counts amongst its goals the fight against poverty and progress in the fields of science and technology.
“Esse quam videri” is the motto I have chosen to illustrate and represent the nature of Foedus: a motto which recaptures and abbreviates the wellknown Latin expression, “Melius est esse quam videri” (“Better to be, rather than to seem”).
Within a society which all to often rewards and exalts individualism, the most evident aspect of which is appearance, the gaining of others’ attention at all costs; within a society dominated by the “culture of success”, in which the leitmotif is that of getting oneself noticed; in a society such as this, it is important to recall that what really matters, what really measures the moral depth of each individual, is respect for humankind.
In a word, it is knowing how to constantly set being over appearing; an attitude such as this, when applied to one’s everyday living, becomes a profession of faith true and proper, translated into commitment, earnestness and reliability.
I had no difficulty in persuading a number of entrepreneurs and friends to embrace this cause and become my fellow companions along this exciting path of adventure. Their sensitivity and intelligence lay at the very basis of my creating Foedus, and one of the Foundation’s ambitions is that of optimizing exchanges between the worlds of culture and business, in the knowledge that such an exchange would allow benefits to be reaped on both sides: for business, and likewise also for the individual and society as a whole, culture represents unquestionable added value. Culture, on the other hand, may benefit from the economic contribution business can supply, but also from the wealth of experience and know-how, methods and creativity of the business world; entrepreneurs can benefit from culture through the enrichment the latter has always bestowed on each and every individual, from the recurrence of image which every successful cultural endeavour provides to whoever is involved in such endeavour.
What is more, if one considers the fact that the competitiveness of Italian production is based on its high quality, and that the Made in Italy brand is often identified with products bordering art, it is clear that business, carving out a role for itself within the world of culture, may also encounter numerous opportunities in which to exploit to its best advantage both its technological and organizational abilities and that art may be transformed into a source of new production dynamics.
Today, Foedus can count on the support of a number of highranking enterprises. I dearly hope that these might continue to rise in number and that investment in culture might become an economic strategy in its own right.
The true raison d’être of the Foundation is, however, solidarity. Not in the sense of the outcome of individual ethical inspiration or an impulse in which pity lies alongside sensibility, but solidarity in the sense of a concrete, political instrument to be used by all governments; not one formulated on the spur of the moment, incited only by a Christian sense of charity, but rather a gesture which is pragmatic, useful and at times fundamental to the betterment of our society.
If it is true that the present is indebted to the “past”, it is equally true that it is responsible for the “future”. Solidarity, the third, but by no means least important, avowed component of the Foedus Foundation, is born from my deeplyrooted conviction that a joint approach with society in combatting the numerous problems present within contemporary society can give rise to excellent outcomes, there where other interventions might fail; it is born from my conviction that solidarity, for the most needy and the weakest, is not merely an obligation to be honoured by every Catholic but also, and all the more so today, a duty for every individual wishing to engage in civilized life.
We need to seek out new rules of behaviour which might allow society to grow in an “organic” fashion, balanced and serene: in the words of Don Luigi Sturzo, “Economy without ethics is diseconomy, it cannot work”.
Investing in society, like investing in art – as a form of social responsibility – implies distinct “ethical-moral” grounds. Foedus sets out to develop such forms of investment so as to contribute to the balanced development of the whole of society.
One of the main objectives of the Foedus programme is the promotion of young people, artists or otherwise.
The organization, both within Italy and abroad, of training courses and educational workshops in a range of sectors and aimed at a variety of target markets, and the awarding of scholarships for various studies, are some of the ways in which the Foedus Foundation will pursue this objective.
Within artistic circles, it is the Foundation’s ambition to become a point of reference for the diffusion and promotion of Italian art, achieved by devising, planning and managing exhibition events on an international level.
Special importance shall also be attributed to the lesser arts, since art-related trades are one of the great resources of Italy, one having enormous potential, fruit of that extraordinarily happy encounter between art and skill, present in our country for centuries. These ancient and noble trades are often crucial to the restoration of cultural heritage sites, especially when set alongside the discoveries and techniques emerging from scientific and technological research.
In order to realize all these plans, Foedus will make full use of its organizational structures and professional competence, bringing into play its ability to set up a network of relations with well-known figures in the worlds of culture, show business and the press.
The proceeds from the staging of these various events, in addition to the donations which will flood in to the Foundation, will all be set aside for the realization of concrete, visible aid work (such as schools, hospitals, infrastructure and so on), both in Italy and abroad, and – by providing staff training programmes – will also allow local operators to become selfsufficient.
Processes involving the participation of other structures are already underway, even on an international level, indeed contacts have already been set up in various geographic areas (the United States, South and Central America) with bodies and foundations sharing the same objectives as Foedus, aiming to set up joint efforts to guarantee our programmes a wider coverage and extending our field of action.
In promoting Foedus, I also wish to found a number of international awards which, once a year, shall be presented to the same number of individuals having distinguished themselves in each of the three sectors making up the Foundation’s main field of action: an award for culture, one for business and one for solidarity.
In carrying out its work, the Foundation makes constant reference to the values of Christianity, liberal-democracy and solidarity, communicative tools which are perfectly suited to foster dialogue with other cultures and to fulfil an ethical-political role within civilized society. For this reason Foedus Foundation became part of the foundations that make up the think tank of the EIN (European Ideas Network), thath is the cultural workshop affiliated to the European People’s Party (PPE).
Mario Baccini, President Foedus