La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895 and is now one of the most famous and prestigious cultural organizations in the world. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008 and before that from 1998 to 2001.
La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions and research in all its specific departments: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its history is documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that has been completely renovated in recent years.
Since 1998 (the first year of Paolo Baratta’s presidency) the Art Biennale and the Architecture Biennale are no longer simply exhibitions organized with the contribution of National Pavilions, but rest instead on three pillars:
· The exhibitions by National Pavilions, each with its own curator and project
· The International Exhibition by the Biennale curator, chosen specifically for this task
· Collateral Events, approved by the Biennale curator
This exhibition model has led to a pluralism of expressions: in order to accommodate them the exhibition spaces have grown for strategic needs, including an ambitious restoration of the Arsenale area which is still going on.
The Art Biennale has been recognised as the world leader in contemporary art exhibitions and the countries participating have increased from 59 (in 1999) to 86 in 2017.
The Architecture Biennale has also been recognised as the best in the world.
The Venice International Film Festival at the Lido (the oldest in the world dating to 1932) has remained a prestigious event worldwide due to the quality of its selection and the recent refurbishing of its historic buildings and technological supplies.
The relationship with the local community has been strengthened through educational activities and guided visits, with the participation of a growing number of schools from the Veneto region and beyond. This spreads the creativity on the new generation (3,000 teachers and 30,000 pupils involved in 2014). These activities have been supported by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. A cooperation with Universities and research institutes making special tours and stays at the exhibitions has also been established. In the three years from 2012-2014, 227 universities (79 Italian and 148 international) have joined the Biennale Sessions project.
In all sections there have been more research and production opportunities addressed to the younger generation of artists, directly in contact with recognised teachers; this has become more systematic and continuous through the international project Biennale College, now running in the Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema sections.