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A network of cultural experiences where art and creativity are at the center of a process of reusing religious heritage by local communities that recognize themselves in that heritage.


The prototype:

Spazio Kor presents an interesting case study of the reuse of a Baroque religious heritage, deconsecrated for 2 centuries and used as a public building. In the case of a church deconsecrated for so long, like the church of San Giuseppe in Asti, the spiritual value has gradually disappeared over the 200 years of secular use, but the building still represents a strong heritage of identity for the local community.

What kind of values and how can they be used and improved?

The church, after many uses related to health, charity and education, has been transformed into a fully equipped theater in 2011 and from 2016 is managed by our organization, CRAFT.

Using research theater and contemporary art, the Spazio Kor cultural project aims to involve the community in a cultural experience and in an audience development approach.

The theater season consists of 30 shows a year, 100 events, open every day, 1500 spectators and over 15,000 people who have entered the Space since its opening.

From a functional point of view, the building itself is well maintained, used and appreciated by the local community, still representing a crucial corner in the (human and physical) panorama of the city and the neighborhood. From the point of view of the public good, the structure rediscovers a social use but still carries out many functions linked to socialization, human confrontation, reflection, debate, inspiration and thought.

The network and the model:

#creativechurches (#chiesecreative) is the next step in this approach to reusing religious heritage for creative and cultural purposes. For example, the shared approach between Spazio Kor and Diavolo Rosso, a music hub and evening venue, offers the public a unique experience that moves between two churches but passing through theater, music, gastronomy, contemporary art…

The innovative value of this cultural networking strategy is attracting strong interest from other similar spaces in the area and beyond. The #chiesecreative network wants to bring together and compare those experiences of enhancement of religious heritage through art and culture.

The management and design prototype is linked to a circular model of re-use of cultural heritage that starts from the analysis of the effects of secularization on religious heritage. In the many cases of emptying consecrated churches and partial abandonment of deconsecrated ones, the values of use and non-use of the heritage are profoundly changed, the values linked to the spirituality of the place are disappearing and the habit of the local community to attend those places is lost. The causes of this departure are due to the secularization of society but also to the considerable costs of conservation and management of spaces that by now appear to be strongly impacting from the point of view of maintenance and use. In many cases, however, when this abandonment was attempted to remedy by drastic reconversion, the same local communities strongly opposed commercial, residential or destruction hypotheses.

This affection towards the religious heritage, even if not used as such, on the part of the population suggests the emergence of other cultural and social elements not usually recognized and valued. Religious buildings often represent pivotal points in the urban landscape, they are recognized by the community as part of their identity, bringing with them non-used economic values linked to history, architecture, social function and the simple existence of the same artifact.

The experience of Spazio Kor and other similar projects demonstrates how, through culture and creativity, a relationship can be built between the local community and the architectural religious heritage.

Through the #chiesecreative network we want to deepen our knowledge of this mechanism, making a system for those who work, study and plan heritage conversion interventions based on a bottom up and inclusive approach.

The idea was born in Asti to put the activities of the 4 churches in the city into a system: Spazio Kor, Diavolo Rosso, Spazio San Giovanni and Chiesa del Gesù al Michelerio but it naturally relates to many similar realities in Europe, where architectural spaces religious have been transformed into cultural centers, concert halls, museums …

In 2018 he organized the first European Photowalk dedicated to religious heritage in collaboration with Paris and Middelbourg (Netherlands).

The project was recognized and presented at the international conference Future for Religious Heritage at UNESCO Paris and the CNR – IRISS conference on the reuse of cultural heritage and circular economy.

The network:
The #creativechurches network has already joined:

– Spazio Kor, Asti FONDATORE

– Diavolo Rosso, Asti

– Spazio San Giovanni, Asti

-Chiesa di San Michele, Agliano Terme

– Chiesa del Ponte, Fubine Monferrato

– Oratorio della Chiesa Santa Maria Novella, Firenze

ex chiesa di San Sebastiano del Monte dei Morti, known as “chiesa dei morticelli”, Salerno

– Teatro tascabile, Bergamo