Thursday, October 20, 2011


Venice Biennale head ousted
Chairman of the biennale foundation, Paolo Baratta, replaced by Gatorade importer, Giulio Malgara

By Anna Somers Cocks | Web only
Published online 7 Oct 11 (News)

VENICE. If the Venice Biennale art exhibition now runs like a normal international event, with adequate toilets, refreshment points, marketing, press facilities and ticketing, and also manages to cover nearly 80% of its costs, it is almost entirely due to former banker Paolo Baratta, 72, chairman of the Biennale Foundation from 1998 to 2000, and from 2007 to yesterday.

Yesterday Baratta heard that his mandate would not be renewed and his successor would be a foodstuffs importer, Giulio Malgara, 73, who brought Gatorade and Quaker Oats to Italy and founded Auditel, a company that collects statistics about television usage. Malgara, however, has never shown any interest in the cultural sector, unlike Baratta, who is on the boards of various cultural bodies. The decision was announced on 6 October by Italy's minister of culture, Giancarlo Galan, who thanked Baratta for his success in “restoring the buildings historically connected with the Venice Biennale, reviving the film and theatre festivals, as well as the biennales of architecture and fine arts”.

This appointment, which is reminiscent of the years before 1998 when the post was a prize allocated on the basis of party politics, was greeted with indignation by the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, who immediately put out a statement saying: “I am convinced that Giulio Malgara is an unsuitable person to carry out the role of chairman of the Venice Biennale and that it would be a mistake to confirm him in this position. It would interrupt a vital and fruitful process that needs to be seen through to the end.” Former mayor Massimo Cacciari said: “As long as cultural appointments in this rotten system are in the hands of the political lobbies, it will go on being like this.”

Assuming that his appointment is approved by the council of ministers, as seems likely, Malgara takes over on 1 January 2012.

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