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Edoardo Cavagnino – HCR candidacy for BoD

2024 HCR Elections
  • HCR publishes the nominations for the 2024 election’s Board of Directors in the order in which the candidacy letter arrived in the official email of the Route.
  • The candidates with a short text present their views, ideas and strategy.

Dear Colleagues of the Historic Cafés Route,

in view of the next General Assembly & Elections, I want to share with you some reflections on our international Cultural Route and on the possible developments that this project can have.

Thanks to the great initial dream of Vasilis Stathakis, and to the great work done by HCR Team, we have achieved an excellent result, namely the Official Certification by the Council of Europe, received and celebrated during the International Summit of Chania, in October 2022.

A very important milestone, but in reality it is only a starting point.

Now the Council of Europe asks us to work hard to confirm the value of our Cultural Route every year, and asks for it through some very precise main indications:

  • Urgently become more European in our organization and governance involving more countries
  • Collaborate with other Routes creating synergies and amplifying the work of individuals
  • Spreading the Historic Cafés’ culture across the continent, with a special focus on youth
  • Commit to organize the highest number of cultural events, in all countries members

To be compliant with these requests from the Council of Europe, and to avoid the risk of having our certification revoked (which is highly possible), I think we have to focus on the following agenda:

  • Change the organizational form, moving from a “civic no-profit company” to an international “no-profit association”, without shareholders and with all the members/partners on the same level.
  • The creation of some new positions, as it follows:
    “Development Manager”, to maintain and strengthen the links and synergies with the other Routes. For this position we need a person of experience in the environment and with a solid network on a continental level. It will also be his/her task to increase the number of members/countries of the Route as soon as possible.
    “Cultural Manager”, to deepen more and more the cultural aspect of the Route and its many facets at a European level. For this position we need an internationally recognized and respected person of culture.
    Those positions can be held by some of the members of the Board of Directors, in order to save budget.
  • It will also be necessary to create an international Scientific Committee (mandatory for all the Routes), composed by academics and experts on the subject (those roles can be held free of charge).
  • For the organization and coordination of events, and in general for the need for an effective operational secretariat, I suggest to have an extremely operational and practical person, capable of maintaining a high level of concreteness even on different themes at the same time.

All this will make up a central body which, however, can no longer be, as it has been until now, the only operational part of our organization. In the future, it will be essential to organize ourselves as a Federation, therefore with responsibility and involvement spread across the continent. Only in this way we can be quick and effective to meet the demands of the Council of Europe and to thrive as a Cultural Route.

The financial support of the Route, something that up to now has never been taken into serious consideration, is one of the main focus of this new organization. Without funds there’s no Route.

There are several ways to finance the Routes: (i) through European public tenders, (ii) through the support of the public bodies of the countries involved, (iii) with the annual fees of the members and (iv) with private sponsors (companies or foundations).
On this last aspect, I would like to make it a rule not to accept commercial sponsors (such as coffee producers, wine makers, etc…) in order not to risk giving the impression of being more a commercial project rather than a cultural one.

Culture must, at all costs, be at the centre of our project for the present and for the future.
There is no compromise on this.

As for the European public tenders, these can be requested directly at central level by the Board or by the Managers who will interface with the European bodies and who will send our requests and candidacies.
For the relationship with local public bodies, on the other hand, each country must act proactively and effectively with its own references, whether regional or national.
In Italy, for example, we have an open channel with the city and regional councillors of culture and tourism, and with the central ministry of Rome. Everyone of the mis supporting Cultural Routes’ project. If everyone moves for what their possibilities are, it will be “easy” to get support from the countries involved, exactly as it already happens for all the other Cultural Routes recognized in the past years and well developed now (we have many best practices on it).

I would like to underline that, at the macro trend level, “cultural tourism” is growing very strongly and that we are talking more and more, at all levels, of “experiential tourism” including also going to discover the historical places of the cities where the history and culture of that region was made. In this context, our Historic Cafés have, and will certainly have in the future, more and more importance because in addition to telling the story of a city or a country we also have the opportunity to have it tasted, and that of “gastronomic tourism” is another rapidly growing trend for many years. For those reasons, tourism and hospitality management will have primary importance in our future.

There are therefore all the premises and all the requirements to arouse the attention, interest and support of our local and national public bodies. Now it’s up to us to go and promote ourselves in the best way.

I conclude by telling of a dream of mine, similar to Vasilis’ one, but projected a little higher: I dream of obtaining UNESCO recognition of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for all our European Historic Cafés. It is something that we have already talked about in Italy with the Ministry of Culture and with the national candidacies responsible and they have assured us that when we manage to group a sufficiently large number of Historic Cafés in Europe and collect them under the relevant umbrella of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, then our dream will be achievable. UNESCO and Council of Europe have a lot in common, starting from many protocols and evaluation systems, to the common interest in safeguarding and enhancing the most important things in our countries, and we are one of them, we just have to rapidly become more organized, stronger and numerous.

I leave each of you to imagine the positive effects that this recognition could have on our Cafés in terms of visibility and promotion, protection and safeguarding, and the enhancement and monetization of the efforts made by everyone for many tough years.
It is time to act and bring home the result that we all deserve.
Mine is a great dream, I know, but I’m sure that together we could make it happen.

Let me also briefly introduce myself as a candidate for HCR’s Board of Directors.

I’m 40 years old and I personally manage the historical Café-Gelateria Pepino, one of our family businesses, since 2013. In this period of time we have achieved great results, doubling our turnover and significantly raising the quality level of our products and services. We are the oldest gelato producer in Europe and we have made tradition and quality our leitmotifs.

Thanks also to other experiences in local and national associations, I can now boast a very broad network that connects various fundamental sectors, from culture to economy, from entertainment to hospitality, and I would like to put all this at the service of HCR for the next years. With my initial stimulus, and thanks to the work of some great colleagues, in 2018 we created the first association of Historic Cafés in Italy (born in Turin and developed in Piedmont) which today includes over 20 members, representing circa a third of the Cafés Historians from the entire country. Thanks to this organization, and to the concrete support of local institutions, we managed to organize an international conference entitled “Historic Cafés Route: tangible and intangible living heritage” in June 2023 in which we achieved results that were unimaginable until a few months earlier such as, for example , the aggregation of all the Routes that cross Piedmont in a permanent working table for mutual promotion, or the expression of interest by over 10 municipalities, regions, chamber of commerce, in support of the Historic Cafés. From this was born the first regional law in Italy to protect and support our premises, effective from the end of 2023.

Edoardo Cavagnino

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