Miguel Delibes said that “culture is created in the towns and destroyed in the cities.” But, contrary to what the Valladolid writer thought, for some time now, multiple creators and artists from large Spanish cities have been visiting towns with the purpose of universalizing access to culture.
Culture beyond the cities: converting abandoned spaces into art centers far from the big cities
An example of this is La Tartana: a caravan by day, a scenic space by night. “The idea is to take the traveling theater to places where it does not normally arrive,” says Marta Sitja, a member of the duo Las XL, who performs when the heat permits. Every night a town, every morning a highway. “No matter how small, those neighbors pay taxes like people in cities, so they have the right to their cultural space.”
Around 10 o’clock at night this artist comes out on stage with a violin that she wants to get bigger and bigger, and since greed broke the bag, the violin became a double bass. But since she wants a bigger one, another more colossal instrument ends up swallowing the soloist. Neighbors laugh and “break their routine”, says Sitja, “sometimes children and mothers have come after the performance to talk about ambition.” Marta Sitja attends elDiario.es from Molinicos, a town of Albacete with 840 inhabitants. “I was a little scared to present in the towns this Show clown, intimate and poetic, because it is very different from the things they have seen, but they tell me they like it and above all it helps them to talk later “.
Theater on wheels (or Teatro andante) is the project that Sitja and Iván Lionel have been dancing through the squares of the towns of Castilla-La Mancha since the beginning of July, and they will do so until the end of September. They presented the idea at the Albacete Circus Festival, and it was its director, Antonio Álvarez, who, delighted with the traveling theater, passed the proposal to the Community’s Culture Delegation. “They have hired us for a tour of 50 towns with less than 2,000 inhabitants. We are going to go through 10 towns in each province. Five performances in five different places every week,” she says proudly.
“The prestige of acting in the great street theater festivals in places like Madrid or Tàrrega is very beautiful. But there are many places abandoned by the institution that have nothing. And now in summer, but what then?”. Sitja is clear: “There are towns that have been waiting for us for days, and in others, as there is no custom, no cultural education, or interest, they undervalue us. But that is why we have to go there with almost more reasons: to open windows and that they end up being doors “.
Read without noise: peoples of books
Towns are full of male and female readers who have no chance to attend book presentations, talks in large spaces, writing schools or festivals. The writer from Pamplona Maribel Medina, successful author with Blood trilogy at Maeva publishing house, is behind My town reads: Rural Network of Literary Festivals. Medina explains to this newspaper that he arrived in La Puebla de Almoradiel in 2016, and there the diligent librarian Pilar Pérez was waiting for him with a dedicated book club. Absolutely full, books read, interesting questions and an idea haunting him: take considerate writers, first swords to remote villages.
During the second semester of this year My people read It has organized 21 literary festivals in 13 provinces. Rosa Montero, Cristina Fallarás, Javier Sierra, Espido Freire, Manuel Vila or Marta Sanz are some of the big names. For the director Maribel Medina, it is so important to bring the best authors, as they talk and exchange with local creators and artists. The literary industry forgot to bring its creators closer to the people and this initiative tries to patch it up. The Ministry of Culture has recently granted them an aid, within the subsidies for the promotion of Spanish reading and letters, of 20,000 euros.
While there are barely twenty days left until his new novel titled A country with your name (Editorial Destino), Alejandro Palomas tells us about his experience with this festival. “I was at the Festival of My people Lee from Olite, in Navarra, I had a literary talk with Carlos Zanón. We talked about the need to reach everyone, towns included, and the erroneous idea that the demand for literature is concentrated in cities, “he explains.
Palomas assures that the delivery of Olite (with almost four thousand inhabitants) was overwhelming: “it was an event for the town.” The writer highlights the work of cultural managers such as Maribel Medina, and the importance of them being able to organize activities to actually promote reading “because each town has its interests and you have to know them to bring up the authors and the topics that can most seduce them.” .
The Suakai artistic team takes their stringed instruments and gets in the van to drive kilometers under the idea that “music can change the world”, with the aim of “transferring musical culture to hidden places, specifically to places and populations that, unfortunately, have difficulty accessing this type of culture. ” They will offer sixteen concerts throughout the summer by the smallest municipalities of each autonomous community: that is the main idea of the project Music in every corner.
The team chose the destinations by looking at the official lists of the most unpopulated municipalities in Spain. From Pesoz, an Asturian town of 148 inhabitants, Iván Carmona, director of Suakai and cellist, tells that they “wanted to get out of the auditoriums and theaters, it fit in with playing outdoors and with a small audience.” And he emphasizes: “It is an urgent need to bring culture to the least accessible places.” The tour is made with financial efforts from the music company, as well as with public aid from the Provincial Councils or Councils of Culture and with the collaboration of some sponsors.
“We have played in two towns that had seven registered inhabitants. Practically our team was larger than the people who lived there. The anecdote is that there was a bar,” jokes the artist. Carmona says there are two violinists, two cellos and a percussionist, who in the town squares interpret soundtracks of films as well known as The Jungle Book, Aladdin, Gladiator or Avatar.
“Culture fills the heart, and this is shown because wherever we go, people are very grateful. The fundamental thing is that official bodies make an economic commitment to bring culture to places with difficult access. Also so that people in the villages can to train and create. That the artists are not only the people of the city “, concludes the director of Suakai.