At the meeting of the Festival’s Board of Trustees that was held on November 3, its director, Ignacio García (Madrid, 1977), resigned by surprise at an appointment in which he was scheduled to be extended as director of the festival for one year , as elDiario.es has learned.
Full capacity at the Almagro International Theater Festival
At the press conference to balance the festival, last July, García expressed his “interest and total commitment” to be able to continue at the helm. In addition, he received the manifest support of the patronage. The Mayor of Almagro, Daniel Reina, as well as the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Community Board, Ana Muñoz, and the Vice President of the Provincial Council of Ciudad Real, David Triguero, supported the management of the Madrid director. His mandate culminated with this edition but the statutes of the Foundation that runs the Festival provide for the extension for an extra period of three years.
Sources from the National Institute of Performing Arts (INAEM), the body that presides over the foundation, explain that the revision of the management contract was scheduled for November 30 and that “the institutions that make up the board of trustees”, with the purpose of “guaranteeing the correct development of this appointment in its 2023 edition” had proposed “the continuity of the current person in charge for one more year”. A proposal that has been “rejected” by Ignacio García, artistic director and also of the Festival Foundation, without the INAEM having clarified the reasons for it. García has not answered the call from this newspaper.
After the publication of the resignation, announced by elDiario.es, the Almagro Festival has sent a statement signed by the Directorate of the Festival Foundation, which states that “it does not agree with the reduction, precariousness and outsourcing of jobs that has been carried out in the Foundation by strict mandate of its Board of Trustees and its Executive Commission”. The letter qualifies this trend as a “devaluation of institutional support” and points out that “the key” is the National Classical Theater Company (CNTC). He points out that the function of the CNTC, since 2021, “philosophically, conceptually, in content, in implication, does not agree with the premises of its creation intended as the backbone of the Almagro Festival.”
The Directorate – that is, Ignacio García to this day, although he does not sign the statement with his name – advances three consequences of the change in involvement of the National Classical Theater Company in the Almagro Festival, which are what caused his resignation : the intention of the CNTC to reduce its functions in relation to previous years, which “deteriorates the patrimonial vision that has been tried to build in these years from the direction of the Festival”; that the hiring of the latest production of The life is dream should be done “directly with the co-producing company and outside its headquarters” and the reduction of activity in the Adolfo Marsillach Theater, which affects “the development of the Festival, the hotel industry and the economic life of the municipality”.
Sources from the Ministry of Culture of Castilla-La Mancha thank García for his “exemplary” work and “having been a shock to the festival.” They affect, like INAEM, that the name designated to lead the address will be known “shortly.”
Frictions between the festival and the National Classical Theater Company
The five years of Ignacio García’s mandate have been positively valued by the profession. Such is the case of Helena Pimenta, who was director of the National Classical Theater Company from 2011 to 2019: “I think it has been a coherent project, Ignacio wanted the festival to focus on the Spanish Golden Age, not there were foreign texts. That seems correct to me, even though I see things differently”, explains Pimenta to elDiario.es about the relevance of programming plays by, for example, William Shakespeare at the festival. That point generated, two years ago, the first frictions between the National Classical Theater Company and the Almagro Festival, when the Company’s big bet was Antony and Cleopatra, production performed by Ana Belén and the director of the Company, Lluís Homar.
“In the direction of García, it is also worth highlighting a very important display of work by the festival, which led to an important expansion of the public. Then came the COVID and it was difficult but García did it well, it was one of the first public spaces that were opened. I think his management has been impeccable, ” Pimenta concludes.
In this year’s edition tensions emerged between the Festival and the Company after the opening, with the tribute to Marsillach, Marsillach is me, a show that did not fill Almagro’s main theater —the San Juan Hospital, today the Adolfo Marsillach Theater—, and that contravened the programming lines that the former director wanted to implement in the festival. The morning after the premiere, at a press conference, García greeted with a controversial “the festival begins today”.
The relationship between the Almagro Festival and the National Company is essential for the proper functioning of the event both at a public and financial level, but the presence of the Company in recent times has been less, in a general budget that has decreased in recent years. five years. The Company’s productions are not contracted by cache, that is, they do not imply a contracting expense for the festival and also, due to the staging, they are capable of filling the festival’s main auditorium, which has 700 seats. Lluís Homar, director of the CNTC, has declined to make a statement to elDiario.es.
Without the CNTC shows, the public falls and spending in the tertiary sector in the area also decreases. In the last edition of the festival, the discomfort on the part of local businessmen was palpable among the shops in the main square of Almagro.
A decision for “everyone”
The INAEM, for its part, in view of this situation, expresses that the Almagro Festival is not only one of the “longest-lived and most recognized events on the scenic and cultural scene” but also a “strategic project” for the Ministry of Culture, which does not it only makes an economic contribution but rather “nurtures the festival’s programming with the presence and involvement of the National Classical Theater Company”, an INAEM unit that has its summer headquarters in Almagro. The INAEM affirms that it will shortly announce the relief of the position and “the Board of Trustees will adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the correct progress of the 46th edition of the Almagro Festival”.
Last May, in an interview with this medium, García stated that the decision for him to direct the festival was not only his but “everyone’s”. “This is the best classical theater festival in the world. How can I not feel like continuing? And it is for the heritage, for the public, for the companies, for the way everyone relates to everyone in the square, ”he added. In addition, he thanked the patronage for having “known how to bet very decisively on the festival”, especially in the two years of the pandemic.
Ignacio García has a degree in stage direction from the Madrid Royal School of Dramatic Art (RESAD) and has won various awards in his career, such as the José Luis Alonso award for young directors. In addition to being a great expert in the Golden Age, he also has musical training and has directed texts by Calderón de la Barca, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza, Francisco de Quevedo, Juan del Encina, José María Rodríguez Méndez, León Felipe or Jose Saramago. Works that have been performed in Spain, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Likewise, he has been attached to the Artistic Direction of the Spanish Theater of Madrid and programmer of the International Festival of Contemporary Dramaturgy Dramafest of Mexico.