8 November 2021
The Fundació Miró is one of the institutions that benefited from the cocapitality program in its previous stage. In the image, the celebration of the 40th anniversary / ÀLEX GARCIA
Yesterday, the Council of Ministers approved the royal decree that regulates the cultural and scientific co-capital status of Barcelona, putting it on an equal footing with Madrid. It is a conceptual, rather than an accounting equalisation, but this year it will involve the provision, by the State, of twenty million euros to be administered at the discretion of Barcelona City Council.
As we reported in our Sunday edition, the Grec Festival and the Disseny Hub Barcelona are the two main beneficiaries of this co-capitalisation, as both will have 1,570,000 euros more. They are followed by the Museu Picasso (1,500,000 euros), the Macba and the MNAC, both with 1,250,000 euros. And so on to complete a list of 37 cultural or scientific institutions in Barcelona, which will see a substantial increase in funds to give their programmes more scope.
The arrival of complementary funds should not be an excuse for cutting local funds.
This decree, which is largely due to the good offices of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, now headed by Miquel Iceta, re-establishes an agreement concocted in the time of President Rodríguez Zapatero and Mayor Hereu. This agreement was signed in 2004, survived until 2011 and collapsed in that year, with the arrival of Rajoy to the presidency of the Government and with Xavier Trias as mayor of Barcelona. It was a regrettable loss, given that, although it began with an endowment of fifteen million, it ended with one of 25.8 million, very well received by Barcelona’s cultural and scientific community.
This measure should not be interpreted as a concession of electioneering encouragement, but as an act of good sense and justice. Barcelona has traditionally been a cultural capital, recognised as such in Spain and beyond (as the royal decree points out). And this has benefited it considerably. Firstly, to itself. And then for the rest of Spain, which, among its attractions, could offer the foreign public the activity of the city where modernism flourished, where Picasso grew up and where first-rate museum institutions, from the MNAC to the Macba, come together. Oiling the mechanisms of these institutions is a more than pertinent initiative, both to maintain the status quo of the city and to make it progress and project it into the future. Because old glories die hard, and it is necessary to keep the collective cultural ambition alive and nourish it in the most appropriate way.
Precisely for the same reason, Barcelona City Council must overcome any temptation to reduce its generally considerable contribution to cultural expenditure – and also, to a different extent, to scientific expenditure – by hiding behind the fact that the aforementioned extraordinary funds are about to arrive. To take away on the one hand what is obtained on the other would be tantamount to missing a unique opportunity to make a leap forward. That is to say, to lose a golden opportunity for Barcelona, whose cultural billboard has often been unable to compete with Madrid’s in recent years, to gain in vigour and attractiveness.
The most precious asset in any cultural scene is talent. When there is no talent, it can hardly be created overnight, even if financial resources are not an issue. It is therefore doubly regrettable, when such talent exists, that it cannot be developed as it deserves because the necessary funds are lacking. Fortunately, such talent abounds in Barcelona. And operations such as the Madrid-Barcelona co-capital, happily recovered, can have a tangible and very positive effect on Barcelona’s society as a whole, and also on that of the rest of Spain.