«An event with a physicality, a presence, a beating heart»

January 2022

Interview with Emmanuele Forlani, director of the Meeting


Meeting 2020 and Meeting 2021, if last year's one was called "Special Edition", this year's one was no less exceptional from the point of view of its exceptional nature ...

The challenge in 2021 was even more radical: to return to a large event in compliance with the restrictions caused by the pandemic. Volunteers, speakers, guests, visitors and exhibitors have documented that it is possible to build in compliance with the regulations. We registered about 60% of the attendances in 2019, truly a figure above all expectations, since a decree entered into force on 7 August that introduced numerous additional restrictions.

It is a typical feature of the Meeting, from its origins, to let the themes dictate to reality, not so much by the urgencies of the news, but by the medium and long-term trends that emerge from it. In what sense has this been the case again this year? Could we say that in 2021 it was the very structure of the Meeting that allowed itself to be “questioned by reality”?

Each edition has a title and that of 2021 has shown all its depth: the courage to say "I". From the beginning we understood it as the attempt to document through experiences and testimonies how each is called to give his own contribution and in this emerges the value of "we". The themes were dictated by the witnesses we "met" during the year.

Ecological transition, sustainability, PNRR, challenge of cultures, innovation, democracy, international issues, naturally Covid ... These are everyone's themes, the inevitable themes of every major event in our country. Looking at what the 2021 Meeting was like, what was the original approach to these issues?

As mentioned, the originality is in the experience. The value of the example is not choreographic, but represents the key to addressing general themes, be they social, political, economic, religious.

2021 was also the year in which the “Meeting Rimini” app passed from the role of a certainly useful information tool on the Meeting to a necessary tool for Meeting fruition. How important was the app? Should we think of it as a smart solution to manage exceptional situations or will it have continuity regardless?

It will have continuity, with numerous improvements we are working on. The pandemic has led to an acceleration and dissemination of technology aimed at the user experience, the immediacy and intuitiveness of use: this milestone represents a point of no return.

Although the Meeting is in many ways a unique event, certainly those who direct it can draw useful insights from the national and international panorama of congresses and events. How did the Meeting fit into this framework? What can we learn from what has happened in this industry over the past two years?

First of all that an event, to be called such, must happen somewhere. It must have a physicality, a presence, a beating heart. Only in this way is it possible to reach the most remote borders, even with digital.

From the “courage to say I” to the “passion for man”, the continuity of the themes is evident. But what is the extra step that the 2022 title will require (in addition of course, as always happens, to the steps that we will discover along the way)?

The "step" we intend to face is to discover, once again starting from experience and testimonies, where the 'I' is born, what is the origin of a subject.

Asking for program lines in November of the previous year is unrealistic. But is the Meeting already oriented towards some particular theme?

We will certainly tackle the topical issues, starting with the title we have chosen. We will talk about PNRR, sustainability, work, health, science. The program is already full of ideas and themes that we will reveal in due course.

One last curiosity: from objective feedback, but also from personal impressions, how did you perceive the "mood" of the audience of the 2021 Meeting? With what expectations did the public arrive at the Meeting? And what does he expect from the next edition?

The data we are still analyzing give us the profile of a very curious, attentive visitor to the Meeting, available for dialogue. What persists and continues to feed our gratitude is the esteem, the trust, the authoritativeness that is recognized in the proposals that are presented to the public.