Ignacio García, the director of Voces de la Lengua, an artistic creation center financed by the Community of La Rioja with EU funds and which revolves around the Spanish language with cultural proposals in unpublished formats, denounces in a letter addressed to the media and professionals from the sector that the project is in danger due to the interference of the new government of the region, chaired by the popular Gonzalo Capellán, who replaced the socialist Concha Andreu after winning the regional elections on May 28. Speaking to EL PAÍS, García explains that although his contract as artistic director —which he signed last January with the previous team to launch the activities— specifies that the artistic programming is his exclusive responsibility, the current Government has canceled several activities foreseen and has imposed others. In addition, he signed a second contract for the transfer of economic rights that assumes that García is the creator of the project.
“There is a problem of imposition without dialogue and of interference in the contents without considering the spirit of the project”, says García. In his writing, the director points out that “political change has replaced dialogue with silence, the open with what is imposed, the coexistence of the local, the national and the international with limits that impoverish and devalue the program (…). The verticalization of decisions, for political and not artistic reasons, causes the project to be wounded, almost to death, since interference in the programming seriously threatens its essence and its continuity (…). The appropriation of a project born in freedom and with so much light is not legitimate”.
Voces de la Lengua officially started in January and the Parliament of La Rioja approved a budget of three million euros to carry out activities this year. The project also has EU funds. But according to García, “inexplicably the new government has decided to cancel all the activities it had planned until the end of September —among them concerts by prominent artists such as Santiago Auserón or Rocío Márquez + Bronquio— except those in August, which are more local. The contracts were not formalized because with the change of government the signature of the new managers was missing, but the artists already had the dates reserved.
Asked by this newspaper the Government of Gonzalo Capellán about the continuity of the project, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture assures: “Voces de la Lengua is still going. With all normality. Logically, as it receives significant public funding, it is evaluated periodically. At the moment, we can only say that he is alive. She does not comment on the interference denounced by the director and only affirms that his contract is still valid. When he was in opposition, Capellán harshly criticized the project and assured that if he came to power he would change it. “We will redirect and improve the Valle de la Lengua project, a failed project that has not been well designed to generate a real impact on the territory,” he told the regional press in May. In an interview last month he assured that the previous team’s management of the European funds was opaque.
The former president Concha Andreu, for her part, considers that the interference of the Government of Capellán in the artistic part is degrading the project. “Voces de la Lengua was thought of as something big and with an international vocation. In La Rioja, culture has always been thought small and this is one of the most ambitious projects that have been launched in the region to energize culture and give life to the area where it develops. If you take it out of the international context with local proposals, we go back to the small”, he comments to EL PAÍS.
Ignacio García, a renowned performing arts professional who directed the Almagro Classic Theater Festival from 2018 to 2022, assures that his will is to continue with Voces de la Lengua, although as designed and financed. “It is a pity that no representative of the new government has wanted to come to enjoy the miracle, that they have not yet received us to talk about their future, and that they have limited themselves to deleting and adding content at will. An example has been programming a non-professional group of jacks, breaking the agreement to only take professionals; yes, after dismissing the show Los Milagros de Nuestra Señora by Gonzalo de Berceo, with Pepe Viyuela and Sara Águeda, as well as other professional companies from La Rioja that were available, ”he explains.
The project was born within a broader program called Valle de la Lengua, promoted by the Government of La Rioja to take advantage of Spanish as a development tool for the region, with its epicenter in San Millán de la Cogolla, which houses the first written remains. of this language. The activities are always carried out in historical-artistic or natural environments and have as their central axis the word in Spanish, “which is presented spoken, recited, dramatized, lived, written, sung and told through great connoisseurs of that word”, García points out, referring to the professionals who have made up the programming from January to July, including actors and stage directors José Sacristán, Pepe Viyuela, Silvia Marsó, El Brujo, Carlos Hipólito, Manuela Velasco, Javier Gurruchaga and Joaquín Notario , Arturo Querejeta, musicians such as Amancio Prada, Artefactum or Sara Águeda and other figures such as the academic and playwright Juan Mayorga.
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