Venice in Peril Fund

The Venice in Peril Fund is a British registered charity.[1] It raises funds to restore and conserve works of art and architecture in Venice, and to investigate ways to protect them against future risks, particularly rising sea levels. The Fund is also committed to ensuring the sustainability of Venice, acting as a lobby and working to find answers to some of the critical ecological, demographic and socio-economic issues that the city is facing. Its chairman is Jonathan Keates, an author and teacher at the City of London School.[2]

The Venice in Peril Fund was created after the great floods in Florence and Venice in 1966. The disaster led to dozens of private citizens donating large sums of money and Sir Ashley Clarke, former British Ambassador to Rome and chairman of the British Italian Society at that time, was asked to chair a committee to raise further funds to help rescue the two cities. This committee was constituted as the Art & Archives Rescue Fund (IAARF) in 1967 and Sir Ashley was supported in his fundraising efforts by Carla Thorneycroft (Italian-born wife of Conservative MP Peter Thorneycroft, later Lord Thorneycroft), and Mrs Humphrey Brooke, wife of the Secretary to the Royal Academy.

By the end of July 1967 it was decided that fund-raising activity for Florence should be wound down gradually and that efforts would be redirected to Venice where the serious damage had been to the structure of the city. In 1971 a new statute was drawn up to replace the IAARF with the trust fund Venice in Peril. John Julius, Viscount Norwich, joined as Chairman in 1971.

Anna Somers Cocks who was Chairman from 1999 to 2012 expanded the role of the charity to include research into the environmental and socio-economic threats facing the city.

The many successful fundraising efforts were helped enormously when, in 1977, Peter Boizot, the founder of Pizza Express, invented the Pizza Veneziana. A percentage of the sale price of every Pizza Veneziana sold is donated to Venice in Peril and by 2014 this initiative had raised £2m.[3] Venice in Peril is extremely proud of this partnership.

By 2010, the Fund had completed 46 conservation and restoration projects in Venice, including the Gothic Porta della Carta of the Doge's Palace. Three-quarters of its funds have been spent on religious buildings, including the late Gothic church of the Madonna dell'Orto in Cannaregio, the ancient Veneto-Byzantine aisled church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, and the 16th century Cappella Emiliani on the cemetery island of San Michele. A new project is the restoration of a hydraulic crane inside the Arsenale, built by Armstrong Mitchell in Newcastle in 1883, one of only two remaining in the world.

The water level in the Venice has risen 23 cm since 1900, due to a combination of subsidence and the level of the Venice lagoon rising. Venice in Peril organised a symposium in London in 1998 to discuss the risk to low-lying cities, including Venice, as a result of rising sea levels, and funded the creation of a research fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge from 2001 to 2004 to investigate ways to protect Venice from rising sea levels. A conference was held in Cambridge in 2003, and a book The Science of Saving Venice was published in 2004.

In 2010, Venice in Peril initiated a campaign in which it solicited the support of the leading museum directors of the world against the vast advertisements on the Doge's Palace and down the Grand Canal. A photographic tribute was produced by international artists in 2011 to support the fund.[4]


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