Musagetes began researching Lecce as a site in early 2010. This was followed by several additional meetings through 2010 to understand the complexity of Italian politics, cultural specificity and regional boundaries for our engagement. In June 2010, Musagetes convened approx. 8 international guests and 25 local cultural, political and social leaders to brainstorm what our engagement should focus on or relate to.
Salento’s greatest asset is the enthusiasm, commitment and creativity of its artists and cultural mediators who are dedicated to making the world a better place for everyone. During our visits we met with artists who are working with women prisoners to establish micro-economies through social enterprise; we met with artists creating music with Albanian refugees; we met a filmmaker who is directing a film about the difficult living conditions among Nigerian immigrants; and we met sound artists who established a world-renowned residency program.
The lack of a physical hub for socially engaged artists was identified very early in our research as a priority to ensure the sustainability of the work after Musagetes’ concludes its multi-year project there. Thanks to government cooperation, Musagetes and the collaborative team (dubbed Gruppo Musagetes) acquired a 16th-century villa that was once a school of philosophy focussed on the social dimensions of culture. Now surrounded by residential complexes, the Ammirato Culture House (named after the leader of the school, Scipione Ammirato) will be our hub for a program of dispersed initiatives in the Salento region.