The regenerative value of culture in remote areas

The regenerative value of culture in remote areas

Matera 2019 beyond Matera

Matera si fa sentire

Matera 2019 turned the city into a hub that brought cultural productions across the entire area of Lucania. While Matera was its centre of gravity, of the 1228 events in the official programme, more than a third were held partly or exclusively in other municipalities. This is not a random fact, but the result of an upstream design process, included in the bid book, which set the involvement of the entire region as a founding goal.

At least 3 projects were dedicated specifically to extending the cultural programme into the remote areas of the Basilicata region: Capital for a day, Gardentopia, Altofest. These were in addition to the projects open to both the territory and to the city of Matera, including some of the projects of the Project Leaders; the Residency Programme; the Community Programme; and others, which built a participative network on the regional scale.

In the visualization below, you can explore all 1228 events of the official programme of Matera 2019. In grey are the events that took place outside the Basilicata region or Matera, with colour-coded dots indicating the events that took place in other Lucanian municipalities.

The remote areas of Basilicata

Most of the 131 municipalities of Lucania have been classified as “inner areas” within the framework of the 2014 National Strategy for Inner Areas. The inner areas of Basilicata are home to 75% of the population and occupy 92% of the entire surface area of the region, according to the most recent census.

The inner areas are mostly far away from essential services, considering in particular education, health services and mobility. They are characterized by a diminishing and aging population that have caused some of the smallest towns to lose up to a fourth or fifth of their inhabitants between 2012 and 2020. The isolation and dispersion of houses is often accompanied by digital marginalisation. According to the data from ISTAT relative to 2019, about one family out of three in Basilicata does not have access to Internet at home.

The inner areas of Basilicata are not just fragile, they also represent a rich immaterial heritage in which the past meets the future, the archaic overlaps with the contemporary: they are a frontier land for the artists who can establish a truer contact with the local communities and the landscape. This is the premise on which the relationship of Matera2019 with the rest of the region was founded. In 2019, Matera represented not only the cultural richness and diversity of the entire Basilicata region, it also activated a reverse motion, which brought the cultural flow from Matera 2019 into the remote areas. The impact on the innermost areas of Basilicata was not limited to the events in and of themselves, but triggered real processes, as illustrated in the paragraphs below.

The visualization below shows the quantity of Matera 2019 events that affected intermediate, peripheral and ultra-peripheral inner areas, based on the project they were part of: Capital for a day, Altofest, Gardentopia, some of the Project Leader projects, the Residencies Programme, the Community Programme, and other projects.

La copertura territoriale degli eventi di Matera 2019

Note: the classification of areas was determined by the Agency for Regional Cohesion as part of the National Strategy for Inner Areas. The municipalities in the intermediate inner area are 20-40 minutes away from the closest hub; those of the inner peripheral area 40-75 minutes away and those of the ultra-peripheral inner areas more than 75 minutes.
“The goal is to draw attention to the inner areas […] It is essential to offer the populations that have chosen to live in these places the possibility to access cultural opportunities that are usually found in larger metropolitan cities.”
Gaetano Lofrano, president of Arte pollino.

Capital for a day

During Matera’s application process for European Capital of Culture, a great many municipalities in the Lucania area responded to the call to express their support for Matera. The “Capital for a day” programme became the opportunity to repay this support, offering these municipalities a funded call to present decentralized events as part of the official programme of Matera 2019. The “Capital for a day” project gave 126 out of 131 municipalities of the Basilicata region the opportunity to serve as temporary venues for the Matera 2019 programme. They included small towns such as San Paolo Albanese, Cirigliano, Calvera and Oliveto Lucano, counting 300-500 inhabitants.

During its 12 months of activity, “Capital for a day” activated 142 events in 126 out of 131 municipalities in the Lucania area, events distinguished by their marked interdisciplinarity and variety of formats, as illustrated in the visualisation below: 68 shows, 19 series, 18 festivals, 17 lectures, 7 urban games, 5 exhibitions, 4 concerts and 3 workshops.


The Gardentopia project, curated by Pelin Tan, worked on 31 gardens which, thanks to artistic residencies and the relationship built between artists and the community (local administrations, associations, schools, individual citizens), were transformed from simple gardens into community spaces. Like in other Matera 2019 projects (like Open Design School), attention was focused on fostering a cross-fertilization between local situations and artists with different backgrounds, for example inviting one third local artists, one third artists from other parts of Italy and one third international artists. The invited artists were selected from a wide range of professional profiles: landscape architects, designers, artists, activists, who were harmoniously matched to one or more gardens with respect to the green spaces and the communities themselves.

The international artists included Otobong Nkanga, who held workshops on how to make soap with aromatic herbs, in the gardens of MOMenti and Casino Padula in Matera, and at the Proloco tourist office in Pietragalla.

In addition to the tangible result of opening up green spaces for the citizens, Gardentopia also pursued an intangible impact. The local communities participated actively, as protagonists, in the process of re-imagining common spaces. Some of them continued the paths they undertook with Gardentopia beyond the year 2019.

artistic residencies
plants and trees
gardens and communities


Altofest Matera Basilicata 2019, a project focused on “experimental sociality”, brought culture not only into the peripheral areas, but into the individual homes as well, cultivating an innovative and intimate form of dialogue between the international artists and the local territory. The project took place in 11 towns in Basilicata, representing the 4 areas in the region: Vulture, Val d’Agri, the Ionian hinterland and the hills of Matera.

During the project, 26 international artists were hosted in the houses of local citizens for 15-day residencies. The invited artists were asked to organize the performance of one of their existing shows, adapted however to the specific context of the house and the family that offered their spaces. The homes thus became a place of both artistic residency, and cultural creation for a programme open to the public.

The projects by the project leaders: Aware, Ka Art and Storylines

The projects by the project leaders who worked on the theme of inner areas were: “AWARE La Nave degli Incanti”, “Ka Art” and “Storylines, the Lucanian Ways”.

AWARE La Nave degli Incati is a co-production between Fondazione Matera Basilicata 2019 and Gommalacca Teatro. In a traveling theatre production with 5 stops between Potenza and Matera along the Via Basentana, Aware tells the story of Sofia who left to save Milo the fish. The set at each stop is the Ship, an 8-ton structure 27 metres long and 8 metres tall, inspired by Parco Miralles, known as “la Nave”, the Ship, in the Rione Cocuzzo in Potenza where the theatre company is based. Each of the 5 stops in the traveling show was preceded by a process of “research-action”, based on the method developed by the Gommalacca company, which includes workshops and opportunities for dialogue with the local inhabitants and future spectators.

The project “Ka art. Per una cartografia corale” also enacted a programme to enhance Basilicata’s inner areas by means of cultural processes. Co-produced by the ArtePollino association, the project focused on the National Park of Pollino and hosted the residencies of five international artists, centred on the act of walking as a tool for discovering and narrating the territory.

The theme of abandonment and depopulation of small towns in Basilicata was the focus of “Storylines: the Lucanian Ways”, a project co-produced with Youth Europe Service and the Lucana Film Commission. In the twin form of video-documentary “Vado verso dove vengo” and connected video exhibition, Storylines explored the relationship between leaving and staying, in the stories of people who emigrated and those who remained, whose voices are thus intertwined and together constitute a multifaceted vision of these places, building new identities.

artists, citizens and students

“What we believe Matera can leave to Pignola and to all the other towns is the opportunity to build a network”
Paolo Santasiero, City Councillor for Pignola, part of Capital for a day

(Re)activating connections

In 2019, all the Lucanian municipalities were connected by a network of buses that ran 9,140 kilometers, half of which for the events of Capital for a day. These are not just numbers: behind them lies a network of persons, ideas, artistic practices, community projects and connections that have left their mark on the territory.


Explore Matera2019 beyond Matera: the events of the cultural programme that have been held outside Matera, color-coded according to the project they are part of: Capital for a day, Altofest and Gardentopia, the projects of the Project Leaders, the Residencies Programme, the Programma Community, and other projects.

Trascina e utilizza due dita per spostarti sulla mappa.

Open data corner

At the centre of this platform, the data, now published in an open format. The Matera 2019 datasets are thus transformed into a digital commons that can inform, inspire and support new information and design practices for the local, national or international communities.

Below, you can download both the raw data related to the theme of this section and the aggregated data used for each of the above visualizations. You can also find more data in the site’s Open Data Center, which contains all the data available in the platform, or in our GitHub repo.

Detailed data on the 1228 events of the official program of Matera 2019.
4.09 MB
Aggregate data for the view on the events in Basilicata, in other cities than in Matera, colored by project.
293 kB
Aggregate data for the view on the events in the intermediate, remote and ultra-remote internal areas, colored by project.
49.8 kB
Aggregate data for the view on the formats and disciplines of the events part of the Capitale per un giorno (Capital for a day) project.
958 B
Aggregate data for the view on the artists and locations involved in the project Altofest Matera.
1.32 kB
Aggregate data for the chart on the artists, citizens and students involved in the projects by the Project Leaders.
111 B
Aggregate data for the view with the map of the Matera2019 events in the internal areas of Basilicata.
59.3 kB
Matera open data