Primavera Sound, at risk due to government inaction, by Gemma Sendra and Ernest Maragall

Barcelona is a city capable of generating high-quality cultural initiatives: Primavera Sound, Sónar, DocsBarcelona, ​​for example, have become, after years of tenacity, international referents.Compete on a global scale it requires making long-term hiring commitments and taking financial and organizational risks (especially complicated in pandemic years).

The bet for culture in Barcelona It is shared and assumed for a long time by all the agents of the city and is used as a slogan for institutional advertising. Even so the inaction of the municipal government of late has contributed to insecurity and tension, coming to question the continuity of these initiatives.

Nobody escapes the fact that Primavera Sound’s announcement of its landing in Madrid comes from the lack of cultural north of the city of Barcelona, that neither accompanies growth, nor does it provide vision, nor does it help to unite culture and city. On the contrary, it contributes to turning what would be a source of success and pride for all the citizens of Barcelona into a problem, poorly resolved and poorly managed.

The dialogue with Primavera Sound has been bizarre for a year, without finishing defining the conditions and commitments that both parties must assume, becoming a clear example of nonsense, lack of leadership, vision and management capacity of the municipal team. And this is not the only example: after more than 25 years of success, DocsBarcelona continues to depend almost exclusively on aid from the European Union or the State and Sónar still does not have a space availability contract with Barcelona Fair -despite the fact that it has been held in this venue since 2001-.

What we would have expected from Colau-Collboni Government the thing is turned the success of Primavera into an opportunity for the entire musical ecosystem of the city, to negotiate to strengthen the presence of local artists in the different venues of the festival and to get involved by committing the visibility of the city’s musicians in the meetings that Primavera organizes with international managers and programmers during the festival.

The City Council has to ensure balance and sustainability of the city’s festival ecosystem as a whole, regulating conditions and organizing a calendar that guarantees the proper functioning of all of them (Sónar, Cruïlla…) and of the city itself. Nothing further than what has happened. The ICUB does not yet know what its role is as a cultural promoter and the municipal company (BSM) that manages the space of the Forum has the sole purpose of achieve maximum economic profitability. Intensifying the occupation of public space without taking into account the cultural interest of each activity or its territorial impact ends up creating an unnecessary conflict between neighborhood and festival.Managing the city is managing conflicts, turning them into opportunities. After 20 years, the Fòrum space has been overwhelmed: the proximity of residential areas, the lack of technical and security infrastructures, have led us to think of a new location for these great festivals. Sonar was born in the middle of the Raval when it had 6,000 spectators. Today it has 20 times more and along its route -just like Primavera Sound- the Poble Espanyol, the Fira or now the Fòrum have been stages that have accompanied a path of growth.

Success has turned these initiatives into global festivals, which have a larger dimension and require infrastructures designed on the appropriate scale. It is necessary to foresee metropolitan cultural infrastructures, at the same level as the new areas of economic, communications or residential centrality.

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We have to encourage the talent that concentrates for a few days in the city to collaborate and work both in creative spaces and in those of training (music workshop, Esmuc, etc). But also, by giving facilities and visibility to live music programmers and venues throughout the year, creating rehearsal spaces for emerging musicians and groups, increasing aid and scholarships for both creation and training, and engaging public radio and television stations in its diffusion

Therefore we need a government that truly believes in the culture of the city, that collaborates with all its agents, that accompanies them in their interrelation and growth. A government without fear. Convinced that culture is the character and the future of the city. We dont have it.

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