Tod’s Supports Italian Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale

MILAN — Diego Della Valle is once again putting hand-to-pocket to support Italy’s artistic and cultural heritage.

The Tod’s Group chairman and chief executive officer spoke at a press conference at Rome’s Ministry of Culture on Tuesday morning to unveil a partnership with the Italia Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2024 for the installation of “Due qui / To Hear,” featuring curator Luca Cerizza and artist Massimo Bartolini.

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To mark the partnership, Tod’s will host an event in Venice to celebrate Italian craftsmanship during the pre-opening days of the 60th International Art Exhibition, kicking off April 20 and running until Nov. 24.

“One of our main objectives is to give back to the country and be an example to other entrepreneurs, encouraging them to undertake the same types of initiatives to enhance and support the importance of Italian art and culture,” Della Valle said. “Nobody can question our country’s leadership in this or take that away, but we have to preserve our monuments and our heritage, it’s an irreplaceable resource that is globally recognized. During my trips around the world, I see so many people whose goal is to travel to Italy, so let’s make sure they find it at its best.”

He continued by saying that “purists should not be scandalized, these are not commercial initiatives,” and that he believes in partnerships between public and private institutions. “We can each do our own part, culture is an enterprise and the system of monuments and landmarks is connected to the industrial world.”

He admitted there may be hurdles in the path as he said “many friends of mine want to help but they don’t know who to turn to.”

For this reason, he envisioned a Ministry of Culture that could become “a merchant bank for cultural needs, where public and private [entities] meet and the latter make themselves available,” Della Valle said in the presence of Italy’s Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano. Tod’s, together with Banca Ifis as a sponsor, is said to have contributed a total of 400,000 euros to this initiative.

“It would be wonderful if hundreds of small and big projects were fine-tuned, identifying the most suitable party to work with. It’s a duty for Italian enterprises, and especially for those that live based on Made in Italy production, as Tod’s does, to emphasize Italian culture,” Della Valle said.

The entrepreneur has over the years funded several initiatives to support local communities but also larger scale national and artistic heritage sites in Italy — restoring the Colosseum perhaps being his most famous effort. In 2011 Della Valle said he was pledging 25 million euros for the restoration of the Roman amphitheater.

At the end of 2017, he unveiled a new 21,600-square-foot manufacturing plant built to support Central Italy’s area, which was hard hit by a deadly earthquake in August 2016. The factory is located in Arquata del Tronto, in the Marche region, and produces Tod’s shoes. The group’s headquarters in Casette d’Ete are located 68 miles away from Arquata del Tronto, in a region that is a historical footwear manufacturing hub.

On Tuesday, Della Valle reminded guests that his group has been donating 1 percent of net profits on a yearly basis to support a number of activities in the Marche region, where the company is based.

The entrepreneur has long made social sustainability a key responsibility for his company and through his own personal investments. At the same time he has been urging his peers to be equally supportive of social initiatives. Della Valle has always waved the Made in Italy flag and sees opportunities ahead for the country.

“Private financing to support cultural operations is indispensable and it can be done. It would create more jobs, and good ones, that young people would enjoy,” Della Valle claimed.

“There are so many uncertainties, pending wars and ongoing wars, but the certainty lies in the fact that if we preserve our culture, nobody can touch it. This is an opportunity.” He took the time to also once again underscore the importance of guaranteeing a future for Made in Italy craftsmanship.

“I will do all that is in my power to support and convince young people to become artisans, and we as entrepreneurs should ensure that our companies are attractive to young people.”

Della Valle said he has had conversations with Adolfo Urso, minister of enterprises and of Made in Italy, and with Sangiuliano on this issue.

The group has its own training school, called “Bottega dei Mestieri,” as many Italian brands do, from Fendi and Bottega Veneta to Brunello Cucinelli and Prada, to name a few.

In 2022, Valentino was the main sponsor of the Art Biennale, and before that, Gucci in 2019 and Fendi in 2017.

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