Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Spanish investment in Catalan cultural institutions unbalanced, says Government

CNA

Barcelona (ACN). Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish Minister for Culture, Iñigo Méndez Vigo, coincided at the Museum for Contemporary Art Barcelona's 30th anniversary celebration on Monday. During his speech, Puigdemont reproached the Spanish minister about the fact that the contributions of the Spanish State to Catalan installations such as the MACBA were not balanced at all compared with the investments made in cultural institutions in Madrid. Iñigo Méndez Vigo, who had sharply defended the opposition of the Spanish executive to the Catalan self-determination referendum last Friday, initiated his speech in Catalan: “Whenever I come to Barcelona I get in a good mood, perhaps because I feel at home. This open and cozy city has always fascinated me,” he said.

It was the first encounter between a Spanish official and the Catalan president at an official event since the announcement of the date and question for the Catalan referendum last Friday. However, on this occasion there were no direct comments on the political stalemate between the two governments.

The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, criticized that the part of Spain's investment in cultural institutions in Catalonia was very small compared to public investments in the cultural institutions in Madrid. At the same time, he defended a successful mixed economic model (public-private) for these kinds of institutions as is the case with the MACBA.

Puigdemont also highlighted Barcelona’s role as an international example for contemporary art, thanks to its strong foundation of homegrown creative activity, which had progressed a lot, according to the president, due to a long tradition of patronage from the private sector. He also said that it was necessary to always set new milestones as a society: to foster knowledge and encourage society to appreciate contemporary art.

During the first four minutes of his speech, the Spanish Minister for Culture surprised the audience by speaking in Catalan. In addition, Iñigo Méndez Vigo declared himself to be an art lover. He also said that Barcelona inspired him and made him feel like he was at the vanguard of society, a vanguard in which the MACBA had a special place, because it represents all kinds of nuances and kinds of artistic evolution which have been characteristic of this society's identity: cosmopolitan, modern, talented, a very lively society, always open to artistic debate.

The Spanish minister also congratulated the founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona, the directing team and the city of Barcelona, because, according to Méndez Vigo, this place symbolized the aspirations that have always characterized Catalan society, which is open to innovation and the world, sensitive to the avant-garde, and passionate about culture. The world, especially the artistic world, feels at home when visiting Barcelona. “All Spaniards are proud of this window to the avant-garde, to modernity and culture. It makes us appreciate this city even more, its diversity, richness, and cosmopolitan spirit.”

30 years since the founding of the MACBA

The MACBA foundation was born in 1987. It was the Socialist mayor Pasqual Maragall, who, together with the entrepreneur Leopoldo Rodés, decided to convert a very specific but widely shared vision of Barcelona into reality. He was convinced that a city with an artistic, design, and avant-garde tradition needed a contemporary art museum. At that time, private companies from Barcelona and public administrations put together their resources to make this ambitious project a reality. 30 years later the mixed model of private and public investment has become a success, according to the foundation.

At the event the current president of the MACBA foundation, Ainhoa Grandes, also explained some of the future challenges that the entity is preparing for today, such as the broadening of the artistic collections, a more direct and more open dialogue with the citizens of Barcelona, and a strengthening of the MACBA as an example of culture in Europe. Grandes stressed that one of the most important goals was the enlargement of the Museum, and she encouraged public administration and private investors to renew their support for this new chapter of the museum.

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  • The Spanish Minister for Culture, Education and Sports, Inigo Mendez Vigo, Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont with Ainhoa Grandes