CULTURAL CITADEL PREPARES FOR THE FUTURE
Antonio Danieli is the Director General of the Fondazione Golinelli (Golinelli Foundation), a philanthropic body founded by Marino Golinelli aimed at promoting education, culture and intellectual growth amongst today’s youth, with an eye to the future. Th
In a scene in Paolo Sorrentino’s film “Youth”, Harvey Keitel is explains to a young screenwriter how perspectives change between youth and old age. To do this, he uses the metaphor of a binocular, showing how in youth it is used to put the future into focus, while in old age it is used to see the distant past. In the case of 96-year old entrepreneur Golinelli, the opposite is true. With a mind and vision more youthful than many of his contemporaries, the businessman from the Italian region of Emilia-romagna looks forward, thinking of how to motivate the future generation.
Despite being successfully established, this selfmade man is not ready to sit back and relax. Golinelli was born from a family of modest means in the lowlands near the city of Modena. After graduating in pharmacy, he founded his first company. That was the beginning of a path that led to the creation of what is today the pharmaceutical giant Alfa-sigma, a company with a 900-million-euro turnover. Fond of art and culture, in 1988 he created the Golinelli Foundation, a unique example of a fully operational private foundation inspired by the model of the American philanthropic foundations - a veritable citadel of culture to nurture the intellectual and ethical growth of young people and society.
“We have always debated how to move forward in the future, trying to explore the connection between arts and sciences.”
It was expanded in 2015, when he inaugurated the Opificio Golinelli, opened in what was once the Sabiem Foundry.
But the changes do not end here. On 11 October 2017, the 97th birthday of this patron entrepreneur, a new wing of the foundation was opened, the Golinelli Arts and Science Center. This powerful artistic structure, designed by architect Mario Cucinella, was created in the area opposite the Opificio. It is a citadel dedicated to integrated education, training and culture, in order to nurture the intellectual and ethical growth of young people and society. Director General of the Foundation since 2011, Antonio Danieli committed to this idea, and embraces his role in a heartfelt and passionate manner, propelled by his experience in non-profit and philanthropic social enterprises. Danieli sat down with us to talk about what to expect from the new Foundation programs.
What activities are planned for the new Opificio Golinelli Arts and Sciences Center?
Art and science are among the cornerstones of the Golinelli Foundation. We have always debated how to move forward in the future, trying to explore the connection between arts and sciences. As part of the development plan of our latest project, Opus 2065, it was crucial to find a place that would complete
the Opificio Golinelli, which would connect it with other areas. The Center was born as a design space for initiatives such as exhibitions and workshops, and a research site. So, on one hand, there is cultural activity that aims to involve people at the international level, looking toward the future while also stimulating creativity, and, on the other hand, there are important educational and training activities. With the Opificio, we want to stimulate training activities and business development. This is an evocative objective, but also a concrete one: high-level education, training and entrepreneurship stimulation.
Your business is highly focused on the future, seeking to conceive and interpret it. How can the Foundation prepare young people to best prepare for it?
There are two dimensions: research and training. For us, they are closely interconnected. The Foundation has a range of activities involving young people, ranging from children as young as 18 months all the way up to university age. We try to accompany their growth. We want to shape new disciplines. We are waiting for the right time to create a PH.D program that doesn’t yet exist, which is why we need to lay the groundwork and help personalities develop, through something like a cultural research center. All of this is linked to the educational work we pursue, combining theoretical experiences with laboratory ones. This vision is quite new in Italy - new and necessary.
Do you think there are shortcomings in school education in the formation of our young people?
The Golinelli Foundation is 30 years old.
For a long time, until 2015, the Foundation had a subsidiary approach, typical of Italian philanthropic bodies. Since the creation of the Opificio, however, the Foundation has decided not to be subsidiary, and so no longer provide responses to gaps in the school system, but instead sit at a table with public institutions and share working protocols with them to build pathways, with respect for each other’s roles. For us, this is fundamental because we believe we can act positively in publicprivate dialogue for the development of our country. In addition, as Golinelli has said for 30 years, it is necessary to develop the way of teaching that has been done for decades. Here I refer to content more than anything else: for example, I’m thinking of the importance of disseminating digital culture. Teachers must also develop and, although there are many good ones, they need to be supported and helped. Perhaps I would say that the traditional school approach is a bit too theoretical: one has to combine the know-how to do things. Content changes rapidly, but human beings, with their peculiarities and imagination, do not: we have to work hard on these aspects.
What can we expect from the structure of the Center for Arts and Sciences created by the architect Mario Cucinella?
Mario understood what our goals were from the start. His style has always combined social, environmental and economic sustainability. When we talk about the future, we think of a sustainable future, and so culturally it was automatic for us to turn to him. The center needed to combine structural simplicity with the evocative power of the whole Foundation. The venue had to be designed to be flexible and suitable for many different functions. The metaphor of an inner heart contained in an outer reticular structure is certainly strong and it is the symbolic figure of our Foundation: a continuous work in progress because our mission is made up of constant tension towards renewal and research. We are really happy with the concept proposed by Mario.
The creation of the Fund Utopia is also among the latest developments. What is this?
This Fund was created with a specific objective: to support new entrepreneurial activities in the fields of health and wellness, with some special features that we hope will open new paths forward. So, on one hand, it is a financial instrument, but on the other, there is also the formative dimension of these startups, which are not only in the digital sector, but also in the scientific research area. Furthermore, we want to help stop the brain drain from Italy and also attract other skilled people from around the world, to create a sort of ‘Made in Italy’ Silicon Valley Made. In Principia Sgr we found an ideal partner that is very attentive to this type of vision. Our dream is that the Opificio Golinelli is increasingly a cultural humus that becomes contaminated and creates an enabling environment to accelerate development.
Marino Golinelli inside the Opificio Golinelli
Antonio Danieli, Managing Director of the Golinelli Foundation
Andrea Zanotti, president of the Golinelli Foundation with founder Marino Golinelli and managing director Antonio Danieli