A bridge is formed between Italy and the United States using creativity and culture to divulge Italian identity through the promotion of art, knowledge, language and history by exporting the true essence of the Beautiful Country: this is Valeria Orani’s goal with her Umanism Agency.
Motivated by the fundamental principle of Umanism that aims to create a new Renaissance, Valeria promotes artists from every field, from music to theater, from cinema to acting, from fashion to architecture.
All of these elements form a passport to make the richness of Italy known by effectively communicating its beauty.
Valeria is originally from Sardinia, where she worked as an administrative director and executive producer of numerous artistic projects.
In 2003, Valeria founded 369gradi, a center for the promotion and distribution of Italian culture, but not only that, it is also a reality of its own, capable of capturing the transformation of the art market through the Internet and the search for economic resources.
In 2014, Valeria founded “The Wop Fellas” – a group of professionals within the Italian culture who deal with art and work with New York. The organization is an open platform for creating projects linked to Italian artists who need help being developed in a context of ever-increasing economic difficulty.
Valeria tells us about her role in the spread of Italian culture in the United States.
From Sardinia to NYC. Tell us your journey.
I left Sardinia many years before I decided to move to New York, and my love for the theater was the reason. For years I lived a sort of vagabond existence which once made up the Italian theater: on tour for 8 months a year and for the rest of the time, while having my family in Cagliari, traveling between England and Holland—this was my dream.
Then I settled in Rome where I stayed for 20 years working with Alessandro Benvenuti.
There my professional goal focused on the need for a radical transformation in artistic production. So in 2003 with two friends and colleagues I founded 369gradi.
Can you talk to us about 369 gradi?
It was born to create innovative promotional services for the performing arts by calibrating them based on the needs and economics of the contemporary Italian scene.
For 369gradi I developed new marketing and management strategies, studying promotion through media and web, even if in those years the social networking phenomenon had not yet exploded, it already offered opportunities to spread the work of our artists.
369gradi changed the concept of the press and promotion, turning to an industry that, due to the ever-decreasing budget, could never take advantage of these services, creating a trend.
Our goal has been achieved and theater companies in Italy know how important it is to curate their own image and promotion, even without big budgets.
In 2009, 369gradi became an organization of production whose art direction was curated.
Every year we do work for about fifty artists and technicians with productions that are replicated in Italy and abroad.
Later, I experimented with marketing and management methods for the creative industry, tweaking the methods based on the work of each individual artist, the results of which were tangible and created the need for a return to visualization and budgeting, so in 2013, we saw the Umanism project light up.
What is Umanism?
Umanism is the desire to offer concrete organizational tools for the revival of contemporary Italian culture as an expression of talent and creativity: central elements of man’s nature.
The project witnesses the encounter between two realities: Europe and the US, the need to spread artistic production between the two far shores and create new knowledge and managerial models.
Studying how to look for private funds to support art, preparing the creative or small-medium sized artisan company to give value to what they do, to invest in their own projects, and to ready themselves for a society that is prepared and suitable for the development of opportunities.
Umanism advances both philanthropic projects and consulting for customers from the creative, craft and artistic industries who benefit from marketing and management strategies in order to deal with the most competitive scene in the world: New York City.
The theater and the arts in general, how are they understood here in the US?
Here in the USA today, art is first of all business. Just as craftsmanship is the foundation of all artistic expressions in Italy, in the USA, this is less relevant than the amount of money a project moves. This does not subtract poetry and beauty, but it is not easy to understand.
I focus on spreading the contemporary message, the result of creativity in the era of globalization, of the economic crisis, reworking our roots and traditions and using them as momentum for renewal and innovation.
What do you appreciate most about the American public?
Their well-known liveliness and a positive response to what they value.
Their curiosity stimulates me every time I try to understand how receptive they can be to seeing something new, possibly unique.
If we in Italy rely on the artisan tradition that characterizes the art and craft trades, on good taste and the pursuit of beauty, we can’t rely on the curiosity of the public because that might have serious repercussions on the economy of the arts and the live entertainment industry.
In New York, the audience has always responded with participation in the proposals of Umanism, creating opportunities for artists who rely on us.
What are the goals you have achieved in NYC and what are your goals for the future?
Umanism is an original project for the States, there are no other structures that build strategies for the promotion of contemporary Italian culture, aimed at independent art production, combining business and philanthropy.
We have ambitious goals like creating a cultural dialogue between Italy and the US not only to promote Italy within the US but also American art within Italy.
A few steps in this direction have already been taken!
In the philanthropic field, for example, the Italian and American Playwrights Project is dedicated to the launch of Italian playwrights in the States.
In December 2017, Umanism, 369gradi and the Department of the Graduate Center of CUNY Martin Segal Theater Center, together with the Italian Institute of Culture of NY and the American Universities in Rome, will present, with “mise en espace” and meet-and-greets, the selected authors. In New York, in the Martin Segal Theater Center, the Italian texts will be presented, and in Rome, at the Teatro Vascello, the American texts will be presented.
The event will inaugurate a path of bilateral exchange of promotion, translation, publication and on-stage performances between the American and Italian theater, which can be developed with the support of donors, which we hope to increase so we can offer the very best to our artists.
I invite readers to follow and support our projects on www.umanism.com to help us realize both our dreams and theirs!