Filippo Addarii

Filippo Addarii
Executive Director, EUCLID Network

EUCLID Network is specialised in connecting professionals and facilitating knowledge-sharing and partnerships across borders and boundaries in Europe and beyond. Its key areas of expertise are effectiveness, sustainability, innovation and influence.

PowerPoint Presentation of Filippo Addarii

I must confess that, when I received the invitation, I didn’t really understand why I got this invitation, because, you see, my job is slightly different. And yes, it’s the truth, I started my career in art. But then I moved to something quite different which is more similar to entrepreneurship and lobbying, and actually, this invitation made me think about my background and what I’ve gone through for the last 15 years. And it was the invitation and preparation of the presentation, which is very short, don’t worry, became a sort of learning journey. Because I’ve realised that all the years I’ve spent studying and researching in arts were not connected intellectually, I didn’t connect those years to my job in the third sector, promoting social entrepreneurship and innovation. So I thought, let’s use my personal story to illustrate some concepts and I guess I can do it this way.

Five quick points – I will start with my biography, I will move to philosophy, which is what I studied, my first job, my first organization, meaning the first organization I created, Global Lab, and finally, the topic of the moment, social entrepreneurship.

Quickly: I actually studied philosophy and history and theory of art, so I feel at home here. I actually had couple of courses on drama, theatre, tragedy, and I worked for the Art of the World, but I’ll tell you about Art of the World later. Now my job is about leading EUCLID Network, the European network of civil society professionals and with the coalition lead by, not really lead, we are in partnership, leading in partnership with our organizations The Young Foundation as our partner, we campaign to include social innovation in the main economic and social strategy of the European Union, actually to bring what we are talking about today at the core of European project, and naturally with funding opportunities related.  

Let’s start with philosophy, just to give you a sense of where I come from. When I talk about theatre, my first references are Plato, Aristotle and Nietzsche, because this is what I studied. But, just to make a point: theatre art is not about entertainment, it is about knowledge, about understanding the deep knowledge about the meaning of life. I use a picture, which is actually interesting, because the deep meaning of life it means also being successful in life. And someone like Raffaello was not very successful, he was not only successful painter, he was also a very successful entrepreneur.

The picture that you see is the famous Academy of Athens from the walls of Vatican, that Raffaello painted for the Pope. Actually, that painting, as all the other rooms that were painted, were not done by Raffaello only, because he created a sort of enterprise to decorate the rooms of the Pope. He was a social entrepreneur working in art, and the message that he sent there is about arts are a part of the knowledge that a prince, and the Pope was a kind of a prince at the time, so, a leader must have.

Next, Art of the world was my first job, and again it was about art, working with art, but in a very different way. It was not about exhibitions as you might know, or shows. Art of the World was created by Adelina von Furstenberg, who is a veteran in contemporary arts, but to promote human rights. She was one of the first people making this connection between arts and humanitarian mission.

As I started my professional career, I landed in a completely new experimental environment. And I give you an example, Jafar Panahi, that is the Iranian film director, you might know that recently, couple of months ago, he was in prison, because he made his last film, with the Art of the world, called The Accordion. And, it’s about… I won’t tell about it any more, just check in Internet, it’s very beautiful. But it’s interesting to see as art, in this particular context, a film, a short film which is a denunciation of nothing really, it has become on one side a target of a repressive government, on the other side, it was the film on the last film festival in Venice.

And another thing, because you like to talk about theatre, I thought it was good to get a picture of Bobb Wilson and Marina Abramovic because they are quite important artists and this kind of artist understands perfectly the connection between art and humanitarian mission. They are being a part of this fantastic production made by Art of the world films to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. You can find everything in Internet.
But let’s go to my personal experience. From Art of the World I moved, actually, thanks to the Art of the World I met a sculptor Alma Suljevic from Sarajevo. She changed art field mission for me because of the war, and she moved from sculptor into video performance just to use the art to show the drama of Bosnia and that was another revelation in my life because I quit Art of the World and I created Global Lab because of my involvement in her work.

Together we organized the first international exchange program of football teams of kids based in Bologna, my home town, and Sarajevo. And to show that art is a universal language, we organized a second exchange in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Rome. Unfortunately, I learned a very important lesson. Creativity, innovation, art education are not enough to be a good entrepreneur. They don’t provide for professional skills that you need. So, global Lab was unsustainable and failed. I was not ready, I was not prepared to be entrepreneur. So, I messed up.

No, it’s not finished yet. There are some few things I’d like to say before that. It’s when I moved from Global Lab to UK, and I worked for ACEVO association of chief executives of voluntary organizations, where I learned the skills that you need to develop and lead an enterprise, especially social enterprise, even more challenging. But it is there at the same time that I understood that an enterprise without creativity innovation side becomes something sterile, boring, in the long run doesn’t deliver any more. I remember we tried organising a workshop on creativity, how to bring creativity and innovation into third sector, and because we were very professional but with a little creativity in the ACEVO organization, we ended up making a workshop about marketing. And, in my professional experience, I often encounter initiatives which are labelled as innovative and creative but it’s just marketing. It’s just about selling products, which is not exactly the same thing.

Now, because of that I left ACEVO and formed EUCLID, which is a European network of civil society professionals. In EUCLID we hope to merge art in term of creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship, as leadership innovation. They are two very different worlds, and it’s not easy to combine the two. A good example is the work we are doing with social innovation. And I wanted to give you a very “arty” example of what has been used to explain the concept of social innovation. And these are The Complaints Choir, which a group of artists invented, and they started in Helsinki. Essentially they train ordinary citizens to sing what they don’t like. And there are two references about Hungarians not happy with their football team and the fans not happy with their hockey team and Eurovision performance. It might sound silly or funny, but it’s actually very effective. And this experience has been replicated across the world. This is social innovation. The last, since we talk about art, I have to leave you with a picture which has always been a sort of inspiration to me, “Life is more important then art, that’s what makes art important”. Thank you. 
142455-LLP-1-2008-1-HU-COMENIUS-CMP "This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein."