Artistic and traditional crafts School Network in the historical centre of Palermo


Palermo Mediterranean Gateway

PARTNER in the project

Palazzo Butera
Next – Nuove Energie X il Territorio
Wonderful Italy
Arcidiocesi di Palermo – Ufficio beni culturali
Sistema Museale di Ateneo (Unipa)

The idea in brief

Thanks to the support of skills and processes already activated for the redevelopment of Palazzo Butera, the historical centre of Palermo becomes an ecosystem of artisanal and artistic creation that generates new micro-enterprises and strengthens social ties. A model of urban regeneration with a high positive social impact through the rediscovery and promotion of the crafts and trades that mark the territory. A cultural innovation project supported by material and digital infrastructures enabling inclusion and scalability. An ecosystem of artistic and cultural learning and production through a widespread school system and laboratories as a trigger for a new hybrid economy based on local artisanal micro-enterprises. Training and work spaces as a talent activation device and social inclusion to develop local resources (ateliers, workshops). A territory capable of producing innovative contents and artefacts and enhancing the artisanal and artistic tradition. Process and product innovations to support advanced craft supply chains. Historical research, digital skills and technological devices for the development of traditional craftsmanship. The Widespread School (Scuola Diffusa) project is a result of a process of research, selection, enhancement and updating of the vocations and richness of craftsmanship that characterizes the production workshops of the area.

The context 

 A slow redevelopment process in the historical centre of Palermo has produced better living conditions of local residents, an influx of new inhabitants and the beginning of an economy linked to tourism. However, complex social emergencies persist. For this reason, the historical centre of Palermo, and Kalsa area in particular, are today the scenario of initiatives aimed at curbing urban decay, fighting educational poverty, increasing the general attractiveness for residents and tourists, promoting a culture of rights and legality. In connection with the projects already started, we intend to promote development through the regenerative value of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of which the urban texture is rich.

Inspiring principles

he project starts from the awareness of the crucial role of cultural heritage in the processes of social and economic change of communities. We believe that it is possible to include large sections of the population – even those in conditions of fragility and marginality – in a new hybrid, profit / non-profit economy, based on the reproduction of cultural memory in an innovative, active and participatory way.

 We keep in mind a dynamic definition of the concept of “Heritage” that we consider not a given stock of goods to be preserved and / or exploited, a treasure or, worse, a deposit; in this perspective, the maintenance and management are not sustainable neither from the point of view of mere conservation, nor from the point of view of social enhancement, nor, finally, from an economic point of view.

Cultural heritage consists of artefacts (tangible and intangible), forms that cannot be definitively separated from the processes that, diachronically, generated them; when the patrimony is conceived exclusively as a crystallized form, it begins a process of decay. In this project we will therefore keep in mind three dimensions which, in our opinion, define the notion of cultural heritage:

  1. synchronic / material dimension, linked to artefacts as objects (to be protected);

2. diachronic / immaterial dimension of history that has marked its uses and transformations

(to be studied and promoted);

  1. synchronic / social dimension that identifies the spectrum of possible new meanings

(to be recognized and developed).

The ideas behind this project is that the activation of the synchronic / social dimension is necessary: ​​without social and cultural innovation (of products and processes) it is not possible to create effective dynamics of conservation of cultural heritage which also produce positive economic effects on the territory. This hypothesis has its own postulate in the refusal of the conception of cultural heritage as reservoir in waiting for effective exploitation (any exploitation is unsustainable either economically – because it erodes capital – and socially because it tends to destroy the social bond). We think that urban interconnection processes and activation of trans-local flows can only be sustainable if integrated with significant cultural projects for the inhabitants (permanent and temporary). Digital and technological innovation applied to traditional artisanal production processes are consistent with the dynamics triggered by the Covid-19 emergency because they anticipate new habits, new conditions and requirements.

 The Project

 The project makes use of a strong local partnership capable of mobilising trans-local, national and international connections and stakeholders and aims to:

 Promote traditional crafts and artistic works in the historic centre of Palermo with a Widespread School whose laboratories, training spaces with internships distributed throughout the territory to enhance existing resources (ateliers, workshops) and recover traditional arts and crafts, such as – for example – restoration, gardening, the production of ceramics and furnishings, by reinterpreting them with an innovative twist. 

 Accompanying people to self-entrepreneurship through the offering of support services such as process consultancy.

 Accelerate the creation of micro-enterprises and 4.0 craft businesses thanks to the innovation of sustainability, production and promotion / sales models and to the development and sharing of a digital platform that helps the connection between creative processes and decentralized production lines.

 Promote digital innovation not only as a support to marketing, but as a device to support production through activating hubs and territorial communities, equipped with the tools and skills for the use of new technologies.

 Educating to beauty, promoting a generative social texture and intergenerational dialogue by creating opportunities for accessible and stimulated cultural growth.



purposes  ->

aims ->

actions ->

output ->


Strengthen the process of cultural requalification and revitalization of the Palermo’s historical centre

Safeguarding crafts and workshops which are at risk of disappearing

Research action: selection of the sectors, vocations, workshops and crafts teachers

Database map; catalogues, articles, photography-video

+ territorial connections

+ widespread knowledge

Recuperate the neighborhood’s productive vocation in an innovative key

Enhance and reproduce artistic skills and traditional crafts

transfer and implementation of skills, including digital innovation

programmes, courses, training cycles, workshops, residencies, digital production classes, field visits, grants and scholarships

+ digital skills 

+ trained craftman

+ local-global connections

+ cultural innovation 

Create job opportunities in the artistic craft sectors

Rebuilding supply chains and related industries linked to the flowering of artisanal products

Support to micro-enterprises; marketing

redevelopment of existing laboratories, also with 4.0 craftsmanship equipment

business plan organizational consultancy, supply chain agreements, specifications, contracts, adjustments, digitalization support

+ employed

+ sector companies

+ emergence from the informal

+ orders

Educating to beauty, promoting a regenerative social texture and intergenerational dialogue

Create opportunities for cultural growth, stimulate innovation and creativity of minors and families

educational workshops

interventions in public spaces, collaborations with schools and the third sector

Format of cultural educational experiences; creative workshops, guided tours

+ contrasting educational poverty


The beneficiaries


Young people and adults in a state of social fragility and having difficulty in expressing their talent and craft vocations; Masters of art and local craftsmen; students from local schools.


temporary citizens and residents; cultural and tourism businesses.


Participants training courses and seminars


Average of 20 pupils x 3 tarining courses


Average of 15 X 8 intensive specialization labs  


Average of 20 x 15 experiences/creative labs


self-entrepreneurial tutoring



Recruitment and selection

 he participants in the training activities will be selected through an individual interview aimed at deepening the contents and results of the previous training courses, the motivational aspects and the projection into the future.

Recruitment will take place through two channels; the direct one for those who will access the project through the dedicated communication channels; the indirect one, through the network of high schools activated in the regional territory.


The tutoring in business development is achieved through the hybridization of incubation / acceleration tools and those of the psycho-sociological cutting process consultancy. The integration of these two approaches allows to guide micro-enterprise projects and support the people who exemplify them; if in the logic of incubation, companies are placed in the best environmental conditions which should allow them to evolve by developing and growing, in the process consultancy perspective, the subjects of tutoring are the people who are supported in the assumption of the entrepreneurial role. 

The process of tutoring the newly created or strengthened companies takes place on three distinct but connected levels:

  1. development of technical skills to support existing skills;
  2. entrepreneurial support: development of organizational and managerial skills to support and integrate existing skills and / or to be strengthened;
  3. tutoring of people and groups through process consultancy.

Territorial network to be activated

 The network is made up of cultural institutions, third sector organizations, educational agencies and educational institutions:

 Accademia Belle Arti Palermo / Palermo Art Academy



Made Program Siracusa

Ruber contemporanea

Scalo 5B (lisca bianca)


Sguardi Urbani

Booq – Bibliofficina di quartiere / Neighborhood book-workshop

Mare Memoria Viva

Licei artistici e Istituti d’arte / Art schools and art institutes

Museo Pasqualino

Galleria d’Arte Moderna


 The project involves the development of actions and operating devices dedicated to guaranteeing the desired impacts and long-term sustainability:

  1. Investment in craft sectors with high added value and high demand 
  2. Resource optimization (requalification of existing laboratories and ateliers)
  3. Designers and art masters with strong training and professional experience acquired in important Italian and foreign companies.
  4. Support for the entrepreneurship of artisans and work placements
  5. Collaboration protocols between craftsmen from related sectors and related supply chains
  6. Structured partnership to guarantee orders for craftsmen during the project phase
  7. Cultural initiatives to stimulate local demand for artisanal goods in the local community.
  8. Connection with the demand for artisanal products for the tourism market
  9. Tangible and intangible infrastructures to communicate and market the artefacts of the supply chain (branding, exhibition space and showroom for experiential workshops) networks and translocal agreements with consolidated realities and similar initiatives in Italy and abroad
  10. matching of finance in hybrid experiments to support the birth and growth of craft businesses generated through the project.

We represent the project cycle through the metaphor of the flight of an airplane. All the phases from start-up to approaching the ground are aimed at the landing of a complex device of cultural reproduction, training and creation of job and self-enterprise opportunities (which moves in the eventual perspective of the creation of a Community Foundation) 




Executive planning



Analysis (action research)

mapping places, skills of the local actors,

local vocations, market trends and vertical crafts selection, schools benchmarks and similar projects

Definition of school operating model and its operational declination

(organization, products, processes)

relationship between clients / demand and school activities

role of existing laboratories

scouting method and students selection, scholarship assignment

Training planning

(organization, products, processes)

relationship between classroom training and widespread training interventions (e.g. workshops, modules on the job for craftsmen …)

relationships between the local and external context (residencies, internships, visiting scholars)

certifications, quality, awards



Definition of the fully operational business model

experimentation of the supply chain on some processes / products


Preparation of tangible and intangible infrastructures

requalification of widespread laboratories

training spaces

showroom / lab experience

Digital platform: design and implementation of digital platform and devices



Involvement of communities and activation of territory drivers

individuals, families, organizations, businesses, trade associations


Start of school activities

Beneficiary selection



Cultural community animation

widespread interventions, cultural activities, exhibition activities

artist residencies

workshops for minors and their families


Full functioning of the school 


post-training courses


Infrastructure of the internal / external supply chain

accompaniments, BD development, agreements, specifications, contracts



Stress test business model

trial with first clients within the partnership, artisan / experiential showroom


Social enterprise project for school management and building network of connected companies / spin offs

definition of the organizational architecture and business model


Attraction of investments and strategic actors

fundraising, crowdfunding



Birth of the social enterprise that manages the school and related activities

mix of beneficiaries and partners in the corporate structure



training cycles

artistic and training residencies

production of branded lines

showroom & experiential lab dedicated to arts and crafts

support for job search, tutoring and self-entrepreneurship

spin off generation



”Le associazioni devono diventare l’acceleratore che trasforma il problema in opportunità. Quel che un ministero impiega 2 mesi a realizzare, l’associazione lo mette in pratica in 2 giorni”





Aloisa Moncada di Paternò
+39 335 7680832



sede legale e operativa

Palermo Mediterranean Gateway
℅ Palazzo Butera
via Butera  8/18
90133 Palermo