The Orchestras of Transformation – New artistic imaginaries for the 2030 Agenda

1. Rome and culture

Rome is a city with an enormous historical wealth and cultural heritage, with international projection, and has a double role as a city and as a capital. The city led the Rome Charter, alongside Azienda Speciale Palaexpo and the UCLG Committee on Culture, to promote the right to participate in cultural life as a condition for a better society.

Rome is committed to implement cultural services of proximity, as well as a radical urban regeneration program focused on the quality of daily life and environmental sustainability, with full recognition of culture as an essential public service.

Culture, artistic practice and research are indispensable tools to share new answers and show new points of view.

2. Project goals and implementation

2.1. Main goal and specific objectives

The general aim of the Orchestras of transformation project is the change. To make a transformation at the social and political level, a mindset change is necessary. To do this, culture, artistic practice and artistic research are fundamental and indispensable tools to share new answers and show new points of view.

2.2. Project development

The Orchestras of transformation – new artistic imaginaries for the 2030 Agenda, curated by the collectives Locales and Visible, was initiated on the occasion of the 2020 Rome Charter launch, and commissioned by Azienda Speciale Palaexpo. It invites three international artistic and curatorial perspectives that combine contemporary artistic imagination with new action strategies to achieve the SDGs in the medium term:

“I Never Ask for It” is the podcast by Jasmeen Patheja committed to ending sexual and gender-based violence and victim blame. This initiative is conceived as a dialogue between the artist’s practice and various activist communities in Italy. It brings together women, non-binary persons, feminists, megaphone holders, provocateurs across lived realities, social identities, contexts, and geographies to respond to shared themes of fear, warnings, victim-blaming, desire, and the right to be defenseless. For each episode a host and numerous guests are invited to promote a comparison between different realities active on the issue of gender, and reflect on topics such as intersectionality, homo-transphobia, decolonial feminism, right to public space, movements and activism. The Italian episodes were published on Spotify, and the podcast was presented during a public event in the editorial office of Scomodo, involving the magazine’s community, as well as some hosts and guests.

The Orchestras of Transformation comprises three international artistic and curatorial perspectives that combine contemporary artistic imagination with new action strategies for achieving the SDGs.

“CLIMAVORE” is an international project by the English duo Cooking Sections dedicated to the exploration of the relationship between climate emergency and the way we eat. For this, two online workshops were carried out in 2021: the first presented the project and the Cooking Sections campaign to the UCLG network and local governments and institutions, and the second was a practical session to develop concrete scenarios and activities. The sessions had a wide participation including international actors, cultural institutions and representatives of the Management Team of the United Nations Agency UN SDG Action. Also, the Cooking Sections launched a network of over 20 institutions in the UK that propose CLIMAVORE-menus in their restaurants. The campaign “Becoming CLIMAVORE” wants to open to other Italian museums, foundations and contemporary art centers in the management of their bars, restaurants or catering points. The Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome was the first institution in Italy to become CLIMAVORE, removing salmon from the menus and proposing dishes rethought in CLIMAVORE. Subsequently, other restaurants have followed this initiative.

“Exercises for the imagination of a space” is the project of Johanne Affricot, who worked on the theme of space by launching a series of conversations with Africans and Afro-descendants both locally and internationally, in Italy and in Ghana, in order to build, map and amplify regenerative acts and practices within the realm of artistic and cultural production. In June 2022, these exercises will culminate in the publication of a zine distributed for free in selected museums in Rome. The objective is to inspire the afrodiasporic community, counteract the sparse and stereotypical narratives about artistic and cultural production in Africa, and amplify the value of what is created within the continent.

3. Impacts

3.1. Direct impacts

The “Becoming CLIMAVORE” campaign focuses on raising public awareness on the impact of food production and consumption on the climatic climate crisis, involving policy makers, activists, local communities and artists, activating an international collaborative network. Moreover, dishes with ingredients that help soil and water regeneration are promoted through the commitment to CLIMAVORE.

The podcast “I Never Ask for It” brings together women, non-binary persons, feminists, megaphone holders, provocateurs across lived realities, social identities to respond to shared themes of fear, warnings, victimblaming, desire, and the right to be defenceless.

“Exercises for the Imagination of a Space” focuses on a collective reflection about what a space is and how space can be used to reduce inequality through a dialogue with various African and Afro-descendant communities and independent and institutional cultural spaces in Italy and in Ghana.

The initiative generated increased awareness of the precarity of the infrastructure of the independant culture sector, and the city's role in protecting and creating conditions for its survival and growth. 

3.2. Assessment

The project of “The Orchestras of Transformation – new artistic imaginaries for the Agenda 2030” had a great local, national and international involvement. In addition, the communication activity, the insights and the views of the videos showed a good user participation and interest in the issues addressed.

3.3. Key factors

The Orchestras of transformation are based on the conviction that artistic research can be not only an effective tool for critical awareness, but also a proposal for new ways of public action to achieve the SDGs. Every artistic practice involved in the project has worked with concrete actions that triggered reflections and dialogues, starting a process of transformation that we hope will continue.

3.4. Continuity

The “CLIMAVORE” project continued in the 2022, with the artistic research of Climavore in Italy. The artists explored food systems and agricultural politics in the country (the hills of central Lazio, the hills of Veneto, Trentino and Südtirol, Southern Puglia). The Cooking Section’s intention was to understand how decades of monoculture have shaped the landscape, and the current ways of eating – but also which strategies of resistance and adaptation are being experimented with across the country and which actors, stakeholders, farmers, are working on alternative forms of cultivation, e.g. without water, or growing non-commercial varieties.

4. Further information

Rome was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo, Rome, Italy.

Contact: direzione.operativa (at)


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