Biennale Democrazia is a cultural event promoted by the City of Turin and its third edition was in April 2013. Its main aim is to create and spread a culture of democracy which then develops into real democratic practice. It is a permanent public workshop, rooted in the local area but addressing the wider scale of politics. It is open to dialogue, able to involve young people from schools and universities, and aimed at all citizens. The project is divided into a series of preparatory steps and intermediate stages (workshops for schools, initiatives aimed at young people, discussion classes and specific events) that culminate, every two years, in five days of public events: speeches, debates, readings, international forums, seminars to gain a deeper knowledge of issues and various ways for local citizens to get involved.
Following the success of the first Biennale (22nd – 26th April 2009), which opened with an Inaugural Speech by President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano at the Teatro Regio in Turin, the second Biennale (13th – 17th April 2011), coinciding with the year celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italy’s Unification, presented Tutti. Molti. Pochi. (All. Many. Few.), a reflection on the relationship between democracy and oligarchies, tackled with the help of over 200 influential cultural figures from Italy and overseas. Under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic, the second Biennale opened with a keynote address by Mario Draghi, the Governor of the Bank of Italy, and with Tutto Dante, IV° Canto del Purgatorio (Everything about Dante, Canto 4 of Purgatory), an improvised performance generously offered to the Biennale Democrazia and to Turin by Roberto Benigni. The third edition opened with a lecture of Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies.
The event’s third outing featured more than 150 events: lessons, discussions, debates, meetings, readings and workshops, making an overall total of over 250 hours of events in 8 main venues.
The success of the Biennale Democrazia was confirmed by the establishment of a collaborative network of more than 70 institutions, organisations and associations. This allowed a wide array of ideas, suggestions and proposals to be circulated, and promoted the active participation of citizens in forging the contents. This helps to explain the public support for the project, with 50,000 people attending the second and the third Biennale. A high proportion of these were children and students, most of whom had been involved in the training programmes offered in 40 schools across Piedmont and other regions of Italy since autumn 2012.