The last ten years have been characterized by the rise of new technologies, with great attention to the digital world. All sectors were involved, the cultural and creative one as well.
New products and services, new types of cultural access, new applications to improve management, new solutions aimed at simplifying day-to-day tasks… but not all artistic experiences and creative products have a technology-driven nature. Some more than others have struggled to approach this domain, some organizations have had a hard time in understanding its perks. However the consequences generated by the pandemic have certainly encouraged cultural professionals to look at digitalization from new standpoints: indeed, Covid19 has weakened several economic sectors, CCIs in particular.
Nevertheless, the need for new artistic languages and instruments – forced by the pandemic – has enabled and accelerated many digital processes, which are bound to stay in the years to come. This revolution is supported by the ICT sector which, in Emilia-Romagna, is considered within the perimeter of cultural and creative industries. It has been growing steadily also during the crisis and represents a great part of the added value and turnover of the sector as a whole.
Putting effort and investing resources in the digital world is essential to adapt to the current context, grow and keep experimenting. It is considered an asset and one of the principles that the European Union has identified to allow member States to access the Recovery Fund, together with the green economy.
Actions to strengthen digital competencies and to connect with diversified audiences through new technologies will likely be fostered in all subsectors, from cultural heritage, to the film industry to the performing arts. The Emilia-Romagna Regional Government has already started investing resources: it aims to encourage the digital evolution of CCIs.
How do we know if museums and libraries are “digital” enough? Indicators have been defined to depict the level of digitalization of these structures, according to specific variables: the presence of a website (or not), online services and box office, number of active social networks and Wi-fi access.
The average level of digitalization in Emilia-Romagna is 53%, higher than the national average (45%) but lower than Lombardy. This position was reached also thanks to the digitized collections, amounting to 48% of the total.
The variables analysing the level of digitalization of libraries are: number of internet workstations and access to Wi-fi, the possibility to borrow digital books and facilitation.
Wi-fi is available in 82% of the regional libraries, the highest percentage considering the other Italian regions. 24% of these structures organize digital literacy courses to enhance users’ skills.
Borrowing digital books is a service provided by 45% of the regional libraries: a service started years ago which experienced a wide increase in 2020. This is possible thanks to two specific instruments developed by the Regional government: EmiLib and Rete bibliotecaria della Romagna. The increase of digital consultation and borrowings between december 2019 and 2020 amounted to 78,73% in Emilia (the Northern part of the Region) while in Romagna (the Southern part of the Region) number changed drastically, corresponding +95,61%.
Several regional policy instruments and programmes have been funding digital initiatives developed by CCIs, in accordance with the guidelines defined by the regional Smart Specialization Strategy which includes, among its priority sectors, the Orange Economy.
Different kinds of actions have been supported: research and innovation projects, startups, capacity building. The nature of the players that have had access to these opportunities are varied: training institutions, research laboratories, enterprises, local entities.