“We want to remain close to the cultural institutions with which we have collaborated for years and contribute to their rapid recovery.” This is how Rodrigo Echenique, president of Fundación Banco Santander, explains the institution’s commitment to promoting culture and art “as a tool to understand the world.” Last year, the Foundation allocated 3.5 million euros to support the sector at a particularly difficult time, in which many projects were left up in the air or, in the best of cases, had to be readapted to digital formats due to the pandemic.
One of its star programs is Use Culture. This initiative, which began in 2014, has become in recent years not only a bridge between professionals and organizations that need to strengthen their work structure, but also an x-ray of the particular fragility of the Spanish cultural sector. The objective is to combat unemployment and job insecurity characteristic of this group, which last year lost
42,100 jobs (6% of the total), according to the Labor Force Survey. A situation that has put young people looking for their first job on the ropes.
Every year, the Foundation carries out two consecutive calls: the first for organizations that need to incorporate a new employee to their staff and the second for unemployed young people who want to apply for these positions. An independent committee chooses ten organizations and a human resources consultancy is in charge of advising them so that they choose the ten candidates who best fit the jobs offered. Each organization receives 18,000 euros, which is allocated entirely to the salary of the new employee for one year. In addition, up to five of them can receive an additional aid of 10,000 euros to stay a second year in the program. Employeda Culture last May closed its 7th edition with the incorporation of the ten professionals selected to their new jobs in organizations such as ARKO Cultural Promotions, ARTransforma, ConArte Internacional, Hamaca, La Escocesa, among others.
Art, for all audiences
The artistic and educational patronage is another of the main lines of action of Fundación Banco Santander, which seeks to bring contemporary art to all audiences: 23,735 people participated last year in educational programs to promote contemporary art and music. Among them, the collaborations with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and the Center d’Art la Panera stand out.
What’s more, promotes artistic production with programs like Derivative, to support creative women and claim their role in the artistic sphere. This initiative is aimed at Spanish artists unknown to the general public who, influenced by theories or scientific concepts, try to capture how the world around us changes and how it affects our perception of reality. “We build bridges between art and science”, two of the Foundation’s lines of action, “they point out from this institution. The winner of the last edition has been Gabriela Bettini. Your engraving, Erasure topography (Wapiti), is a hymn to nature and a deep critique of the relationship of Western culture with it.
It also convenes annually the Premio to Artistic Production (It is now in its eighth edition) to give visibility to the young promises; promotes the sponsorship of collecting, collaborating with fairs such as Arcomadrid or Stamp, both references for galleries. Added to this is the conservation, management and dissemination of the works that are part of the Colesson Banco Santander, one of the most important private exhibitions in Spain.
The music and literature are the other axes of the cultural vocation Santander Foundation. Thus, it is part of the pedagogical projects of the Albéniz Foundation, where he is the holder of the Piano Chair at the Reina Sofía School of Music that trains future talents; collaborates with programs to instill a taste for music such as Concerts for schoolchildren, the Choral School of the Orfeó Catalá or the Orfeón Donostiarra, And it is patron of popular functions offered by the Teatro Real in Madrid and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. During 2020, due to the health situation, concerts and face-to-face training classes were canceled to adapt to new digital formats.
In literature, through Fundamental Work Collection, recovers the work of writers in the Spanish language who, for various reasons, have been relegated to oblivion. Among the titles published last year are Of the wonderful and the real , an anthology of short stories and other texts by Joan Perucho; The invisible tower, a sample of the literary production of Ramón de la Serna y Espina; Visit all the heavens. Letters to Gregorio Prieto (1924-1981), where the letters that the poet wrote to the painter Gregorio Prieto, with whom he maintained an intense epistolary relationship from the 1920s until shortly before his death, are collected; or From woman to woman. Letters from exile to Gabriela Mistral (1942-1956), with letters sent to the writer by several exiled Spanish artists and intellectuals, such as Ana María Martínez Sagi or María Zambrano.
Along with promoting culture, Fundación Banco Santander’s work focuses on two other lines of action: social action and caring for the environment. In all its programs it strives to create collaborative networks with the third sector to jointly face the main global challenges. Throughout last year, it allocated a total of more than 9 million euros (20% more) to the different initiatives it develops, although a large part of this effort was focused on supporting the third sector in the search for solutions to the difficult situation experienced by those most affected by the pandemic: 4.2 million euros compared to 1.2 million in 2019, which means almost tripling the funds aimed at helping these types of projects.