“Venice is losing its soul”. Two more historic workshops close in Venice: Artisans issue another urgent appeal for action.

After the announcement of the closing of another two historic workshops, those of the silkscreen shop of Giampaolo Fallani, and of the engraving shop of Toni Dalla Venezia, the Artisan’s Guild has issued yet another appeal to the City requesting that it intervene with urgency. Yet another, because the alarm is not only a recent one, but has also been raised with previous administrations. “Venice is losing its soul”, said Guild Secretary Gianni De Checchi, “we need to recover vacant spaces and find fixed price rents for artisans, identify forms of agreement with private interests that provide tax breaks and incentives for artisanal activity, institute a base of solidarity”. De Checchi is generally opposed to the idea of identifying a large space in which to place all the artisans because this would be equivalent to ‘ghettoizing’ them. However, some foreign examples are positive, such as the Oxa Tower in London. “The phenomenon of historic shops closing will turn against Venice”, he continued, “because tourists come looking to know this Venice, the Venice of the shops, of the artisans who have acquired knowledge that cannot be found in any other place if not in this City. Going forward from this step there will be nothing more and, apart from the palazzi, it will be like going to any other city”.

Another question is that of the transmission of knowledge: “Actually there are rules that reduce the cost of apprentices for artisans”, continued the Secretary of the Artisan’s Guild, “but it would require doing more than that, such as a guarantee that the insurance, which has a very high cost, will be paid. Today the only way in which young people can learn is that of the school/work alternating program, which is good, but is too small”.

According to the Guild there is movement: “There is a current of cultural thought that increasingly is recognizing that we are losing a cultural heritage that should be preserved” affirmed De Checchi, “If the City would like to offer any initiatives, we are here, available. It is clear that the private interests seek to maximize profit from their properties, but the problem at its heart is the use of these properties only for tourism, with a minimum of attention for housing and small business”.

The news of the closings of Fallani and Dalla Venezia has not been met with indifference by the citizens who yesterday used social media to point out the urgency of doing something, before it is too late.

Source: La Nuova Venezia, 2 October 2017

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