During the morning Duomo Square witnessed the anger of General Pappalardo’s “Gilets Arancioni”, or “Orange Vests”, who believe that Covid-19 is part of a political conspiracy and who do not believe in distancing or wearing masks. Later that afternoon a group of about 2,000 artists came to the square. While they endeavored to respect social distancing and adhere to the protective measures imposed by the Italian government, they nonetheless came to send a clear and strong message to the political authorities. United by the hashtag #convocatecidalvivo (“bring us back live on stage”) in Milan and other cities in Italy, the world of artists and entertainers decided to make their voices and their demands felt.
Actors, dancers, comedians, choreographers, singers, deejays, screenwriters, tailors, makeup artists, acrobats and jugglers came. There was even Raffaele Kohler, the trumpeter whose rendition of “O mia bela madunina” became a symbol of the lockdown in Milan after he played it from a balcony. They were all here in Piazza Duomo, wearing banners displaying the article numbers of the Italian constitution that protect and preserve culture.
“Almost all of our professions now being in a precarious state, we declare a state of permanent unrest.”. “We believe art and culture to be in accordance with article 9 of the Italian constitution as a common good and a social heritage, that each and everyone has the right to access, and which should not be classified solely as a business, but should be considered as vital connective tissue between the individual and the community.” convocatecidalvivo-culture-coronavirus
The online petition espousing these sentiments garnered 5,000 signatures in a few hours. Its supporters call for guaranteed and sustained government-funded income for all entertainers and artists until the effective recovery of the art sector, and at least until 2021. They also demand that the arts and entertainment industry be given the right to participate jointly in discussions with the Italian authorities to “revolutionize the system” and follow in the footsteps of France, that recently guaranteed protections to the entertainment sector.
Despite the dire situation and the seriousness of the demands, the protest became a wonderful spectacle of music, acrobatics and juggling. There was a symbolic minute of silence and a happy finale with the protesters dancing to the beat of “Bella Ciao” that resounded off the walls and windows of the closed shops and restaurants of the nearby and exclusive Vittorio Emanuele Gallery.
Pablo Munini, Milan, 30th May, 2020