Easter Arches: Creativity is Inclusive

Easter Arches: Creativity is Inclusive

Together, thanks to community crowdfunding, we can help the community of San Biagio Platani in Agrigento realize the Easter Arches, the symbol of Sambiagese identity. Upon reaching the goal through donations, the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani will co-finance the project with a contribution equal to 70%.

The Value of Local Traditions

The project, developed by A.P.S. Creativity of a People, aims to support and strengthen a centuries-old popular and religious tradition, unique in the Italian territory. Natural materials are painstakingly worked on for months in workshops managed by citizens to create works of art and architecture displayed from Easter along the main street of San Biagio Platani. The process involves the skilled and creative manipulation of natural materials such as reeds, willow, olive branches, rosemary, laurel, oranges, which are transformed into cathedrals and vegetal colonnades. Decorative and aesthetic elements are applied to these large architectural structures, emphasizing the devotional nature of the event: bread, eggs, sugar, salt, almonds, ears of wheat, corn, dates, flowers, and legumes are transformed into “nimpe” and mosaics through skillful hands. All of this contributes to an immersion in the most basic and astonishing spectacle of the agro-pastoral universe.

This tradition is not only fundamental for the cohesion and inclusion necessary for a suffering social fabric but also, by attracting a large number of visitors, opens the doors to new synergies between the tourist and local agro-artisan sectors, supporting economic recovery. The fundraising objective is to provide the community with the means to fully reclaim the symbol of Sambiagese identity, which recently risked being lost due to the weak economic, social, and financial structure typical of rural areas.

The project “Easter Arches – Creativity is Inclusive” has been selected in the “Inclusive Restart” call for proposals from the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani. The Foundation believed in the impact of the initiative and will co-finance a part of the total project value with a donation contribution equal to 70%. For the remaining part, and therefore, for this project to be realized, the community of San Biagio Platani needs your support.

The Community Value of the Easter Arches

The festival, as known today, originated in the 1970s, thanks to the initiative of some members of two confraternities, Signurara and Madunnara: men and women of all ages and backgrounds united in a religious and pagan competition for beauty. Since then, there has been a revival of the festival, involving the entire population, divided into two factions and small groups, working for months in various workshops. The entire village turns into an immense workshop, where a thousand or more skilled hands, guided by the memory and skill of their ancestors, create the enchanting spectacle that is different every year. The tradition has become a wonderful collective pursuit, engaging and striving for perfection and beauty. The workshops are set up inside garages and houses provided free of charge by private individuals. Work begins in January, and every day, after the working day, groups gather to set up decorations in an atmosphere of artistic harmony. For many, this is the true celebration, a festive moment of sharing where people of all ages collaborate to see their territory flourish again and pass on this wealth to their children. The workshop activities continue until the day before Easter when the fruit of months of work is put on display along the main street, and the entire community participates in the assembly, celebrating rebirth together. For more than a month, the Easter Arches remain on display along the main street, commented on by proud local elders and guided by the younger generation, who often become tour guides, and admired by numerous visitors. Mutual aid, support, interaction with the elderly who teach the younger generations the ancient techniques, young people returning home during this period just to take part, and the proud continuation of their traditions. Isn’t this the sense of community sought within small villages? The importance of this tradition is not only economic; the social impact it generates, the bonds it helps create and strengthen, are the greatest value for the community.

How the Funds Will Be Used

Through the fundraising campaign promoted by A.P.S. Creativity of a People and the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani on For Funding, they aim to collect 10,000 Euros to build, in preparation for the next year, the Easter Arches, a fundamental part of the Sambiagese cultural heritage that looks to the future and the social and economic growth of the territory. Until 2018, funding for the construction of the Easter Arches came from the municipal budget. After an administrative crisis, the community decided to support the tradition independently. The ongoing pandemic has definitively halted the work, despite the contributions already made by commercial activities for the purchase of materials, which are now deteriorated. Companies, affected by the crisis, are no longer able to finance the 2021 edition. Thanks to your help, A.P.S. Creativity of a People will be able to make purchases to enhance the activities useful for the event: materials and raw materials for the construction of the structures (such as iron for the frames, legumes and cereals, fabrics, colors), insurance for any accidents, and testing of the electrical system.

The Social Promotion Association Creativity of a People

The Social Promotion Association Creativity of a People (San Biagio Platani – AG) aims to promote local art through the preservation of the popular-religious traditions of San Biagio Platani, in the Sicano hinterland. The mission is the safeguarding of local identity, mainly through the creation of the Easter Arches, where the community comes together in a large inclusive workshop. A thousand or more hands, made skillful by the memory of ancestors and the strength of youth, create a unique spectacle of paintings, mosaics, and architectural structures decorated with natural materials such as bread, legumes, and rice. The Creativity of a People association has played a key role in promoting local tradition since its inception: it has been the driving force that has motivated hundreds of people to mobilize to reclaim the Easter Arches festival, following the disintegration of the religious confraternities that used to create them and the municipal administrative crisis. Since 2018, more than a hundred volunteers have participated in the creation of the Easter Arches and have made immense efforts to revive the tradition, in the spirit of a resilient and united community.

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