Culture on the frontlines:
Unveiling the keys to social and economic innovation in the Med space

Sostenuto is a European project that delves into the relationships between culture and social and economic innovation processes. This project has been carried out over the last three years in the framework of the Med Programme with the support of the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

The initiative is based on the interactions between seven very different organizations from France, Italy, Montenegro, Slovenia and Spain.

The main contribution of the Sostenuto project is the positioning of culture as a determining factor for social and economic change, at a time when the economic crisis is forcing Europe to redefine the traditional elements of competitiveness and reformulate its sustainable development model.

Culture is acquiring a growing functionality in the demands for the transformation of our political, social and economic system, not only because it has the capacity to catalyze innovation , but also because it incorporates a network of values that lead to a new ethical interpretation of social and economic exchanges.

The initiatives promoted by AMI (project leader), Bunker, CITEMA, Expeditio and Zunino e Partner Progetti in the framework of Sostenuto have provided evidence of the potentialities of creative and cultural activities in social dynamization and territorial development processes and in the consolidation of spaces prone to change and innovation.

Through their cultural labs - a creative business incubator in Marseille (France), an urban dynamization and participation system in Ljubljana (Slovenia), an arts & crafts cluster in Chiusi (Italy) and a set of territorial governance initiatives in Kotor (Montenegro) and Liguria (Italy) - the cultural organizations involved in the project have also contributed to create spaces for action and debate around those topics.

 Linking the experience of the labs to the expanding academic literature and the exchanges conducted with lab managers and external cultural agents, the project has identified some of the elements that explain the emergence of new forms of economic and social organization and reinforce the innovation capacity in the cultural sector.

The research conducted throughout the project has tried to seek answers to three main questions: does culture have special capabilities to generate or trigger innovation? Are there channels through which innovation can be transmitted from the cultural to the social or the economic sphere? Do Med regions perform differently from Europe as a whole in these spheres?