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Matera 2019: dancing in the streets as locals embrace cultural collaboration

By Cinzia Rizzi
Matera 2019: dancing in the streets as locals embrace cultural collaboration

Matera’s year as European Capital of Culture is drawing to a close. But its legacy will remain thanks to the unique involvement of local residents.

Nine months ago the southern Italian city, known for its ancient caves, was transformed as music, art, sound and colour filled the streets.

Organisers always wanted to involve the local community and the people of Matera embraced the radical transformation.

One local resident said it had generated great community spirit across the city.

“While Matera is an ancient town, it’s geographically isolated. And instead this (Matera 2019) has led the population to open up and share the beauty of the events."

Locals and tourists alike have been an integral part of Matera 2019, whether it be the opportunity to learn something new like an Italian folk dance or become involved in a giant dance performance.

Choreographer Virgilio Sieni has been working with locals for months to develop an archive of movement and expression. It’s an ongoing project.

He told Euronews: "Working with the local community is always wonderful. When they are able to be the focus of attention - even for very simple things, such as walking or a turn of the hand - immediately everything becomes profound."

Matera 2019 director Paolo Verri says the year has put the city on the international tourist map. But its lasting legacy will be the participation of local people.

“It leaves a great centre of expertise and youth, and launches above all a new cultural product. The product of co-creation. Matera for the future will be a permanent co-creation centre, a place where artists will experience how to produce together with local citizens".

Music has played a big part throughout the year.

Trilok Gurtu, percussionist with the Jan Garbarek jazz quartet, says music is the best language to communicate to the people.

“They don't need words, they just listen to it. Music is the best way of communication for integration, nowadays we need it."

Matera 2019 runs until December.