The Symbola Report and professions in archaeology: what the numbers say

Chiara Boracchi Center for Public Archaeology Studies ‘Archeostorie’, c.boracchi@archeostoriejpa.eu
  • Translated by Flavio Bacci
Open Access
  • Abstract
  • How to Cite

Based on the data from the last Symbola Report on the cultural and creative production system in Italy, what are the job prospects for archaeologists? Which areas should they focus on? Archeostorie analyzes the data.

Boracchi, C. 2018. The Symbola Report and professions in archaeology: what the numbers say. Archeostorie. Journal of Public Archaeology. 2: pp. 157-160.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.23821/2018_6g

CC BY 4.0 © The author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Culture activities in Italy alone are worth 89.9 billion euros and employ a total of 1.5 million people (about 6% of all workers). But what role does archaeology play? What benefits does it bring? What are the prospects for a graduate in this field? We have tried to analyze the encouraging figures of the seventh Report Io sono cultura – l’Italia della qualità e della bellezza sfida la crisi (I am culture – Italy of quality and beauty challenges the crisis) developed by the Symbola Foundation and Unioncamere, presented in Rome on June 28th 2017 (Symbola-Unioncamere 2017), in an attempt to understand to what extent our field of studies can feed us, and what is its real potential.

The Symbola report has been compiled since 2011 and is the only study in Italy aimed to quantify, numbers and percentages in hand, the overall wealth produced by culture in our country. To do so, it analyzes the data of five macro sectors of the Italian Cultural Production System (SPCC): the creative industries (architecture, communication, design), the cultural industries as such (cinema, publishing, videogames, software, music and printing), the historical-artistic heritage (museums, libraries, archaeological sites, archives, historical monuments), the performing and visual arts and, finally, the so-called ‘creative driven’ enterprises, i.e. those companies that, though not directly related to the cultural sector (such as fashion or high quality craftsmanship), make use of the cultural and creative professions in order to function.

The general data of the Symbola Report

The value of all these sectors combined is € 89.9 billion ‘pure’ (6% of the country’s wealth). However, according to the Symbola analysis, for every euro produced by SPCC, 1.8 euro (called Multiplier Effect 1.8) is activated in related areas, with tourism as the main beneficiary. Thanks to this effect, the overall value of culture becomes around € 250 billion, representing 16.7% of the total national added value (with a 1.8% increase compared to last year).

The most valuable sector is the creative driven (33.5 billion), followed by the cultural industries (33 billion), creative industries (12.9 billion), performing arts and visual arts (7.2 billion) and, finally, by the conservation and development of historical-artistic heritage (3 billion). All sectors are growing both in their employment rate (increased by 1.5% compared to the previous year) and in terms of added value (which recorded a +1.8%). This growth is stronger, even if only slightly, than the rest of the economy, where average growth was 1.3% and 1.5% respectively. But what can all that mean for us archaeologists?

More areas of interest, more jobs

As we are well aware, the career opportunities for archaeologists are no longer only excavation, museums or academic research, i.e. professions related only to the study and protection of our archaeological heritage. With the appropriate training, there are job opportunities in the field of communications, the development of apps, software or video games, short films and documentaries; one may become the social media manager of an archaeological area, manage it directly, or even more.

For archaeologists, therefore, there are at least three macro areas of desirable employment: the traditional field of historical-artistic heritage (now employing 53 thousand men and women), the cultural industries as such (with a total of 491 thousand employees, of which almost 268 thousand in publishing and almost 160 thousand in the production of software and video games) and the creative industries (with over 253 thousand, 100 thousand of whom in communications). So job opportunities for our graduates have considerably increased.

The absurdity of the quota system

The idea of implementing a quota system for departments such as Archaeology—as was proposed—is thus senseless, since its graduates are not bound to be absorbed by just one sector. It would, instead, be more reasonable to help them create a formative track toward the ‘new archaeological professions’, as we— the Archeostorie team—have been repeatedly advocating since the publication of our Manual (Dal Maso & Ripanti 2015).

Greater support would be needed from the university institutions that still today, in many cases, organize their curricula taking into account predominantly the macro sector of the historical-artistic heritage, resisting the exploration of alternative models or at least demanding it to the ‘individual students’ personal initiative.

Archaeology, quality tourism, economic and environmental sustainability

If we then consider the positive impact of culture on tourism (which is the main beneficiary of the multiplier effect), the key role that archaeological sites and museums can play in ensuring sustainable and fair development for the territories should be emphasized. Two factors are at play: on the one hand, the Symbola Report states that about one-third of the national tourist expenditure was triggered by culture. On the other hand, another report, Italians, sustainable tourism and ecotourism of the Univerde Foundation – Ipr marketing (Univerde- IPR Marketing 2017), indicates a steadily growing interest in archaeological sites (included ‘minor’ ones) and historic villages, especially in a particular group of travellers: eco-tourists, who today represent about 18% of the overall population.

This means that visitors to the archaeological sites and museums are not only increasing the downstreamproductioninaterritory(activating   a part of that one-third of tourist expenditure quoted by Symbola), but that by increasingly respecting the rules of sustainable tourism they are encouraging authentic development from a both social and environmental point of view (for example, by preferring to consume typical and organic products or buying local handicrafts).

Archaeologists will also be interested in job opportunities offered by the tourism sector itself. We must not forget that, for example, some of the objectives of the Strategic Tourism Plan (PST) 2017-2022 (MiBACT 2017) provide for investment over the next five years in order to create digital maps of places of culture, so that such places are properly narrated and tourists may best experience them. Who better than than archaeologists skilled in web communication might take on this task?

Opportunities for the economy of Southern Italy and the Art Bonus

To conclude, archaeological sites and museums can also be essential for the economic recovery of the South. According to the Symbola data, the Southern regions of Italy – rich in archaeological and historical-artistic heritage – are those which benefit less from culture, with only 4.1% of added value, while the Central regions have the greatest advantages.

Whilst specific projects could really make a difference by generating work and economic returns, a greater exploitation of specific tax instruments, such as the Art bonus, could be a unique opportunity to directly involve the public in the protection and development of the ‘minor’ archaeological heritage and to generate affection for places of culture.

According to Symbola, as a result of the Art Bonus (introduced in 2014), 5,216 patrons have so far donated 123 million euros. But there could be many more.

In short, the numbers of the I am culture report are reassuring. They support our conviction that a degree in Archaeology is not as useless as some make it up to be, and our belief that opportunities for our professionals in the various sectors of culture are many and varied, and waiting to be grasped.

Art bonus. Available at: http://artbonus.gov.it/ (Accessed February 21, 2018).

Dal Maso, C. & Ripanti, F. 2015. Archeostorie, Manuale non convenzionale di archeologia vissuta. Milan: Cisalpino Istituto Editoriale Universitario.

MiBACT 2017. PST 2017-2022. Italia paese per viaggiatori. Piano strategico di sviluppo del turismo. Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo. Downloadable at: http://www.beniculturali.it/mibac/multimedia/MiBAC/ documents/1481892223634_PST_2017_IT.pdf

Symbola – Unioncamere 2017. Io sono cultura – 2017 L’Italia della qualità e della bellezza sfida la crisi. Fon- dazione Symbola – Unioncamere. Downloadable at: http://www.symbola.net/html/article/iosonocultu- ra17ricerca

Univerde-IPR     Marketing  2017.   VII    Rapporto Italiani, turismo sostenibile e ecoturismo, Rapporto 2017. Fondazione Univerde- IPR Marketing. Downloadable at: http://www.fondazioneuniverde.it/wp-content/ uploads/2017/04/VII-Rapporto-Italiani-turismo-sostenibile-e-eco-turismo-marzo-017-2.pdf

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