On July 14, the Governing Council of the Community of Madrid approved a validation for 1,566,601 euros for the benefit of Clece (a service company that belongs to the ACS group, chaired by Florentino Pérez), as you have learned elDiario.es. The payment corresponds to the management services of the San Lorenzo de El Escorial theater and the Madrid Canal Theaters, during the months of March and April 2021. These bulky bills, in addition to those for January and February, will be repeated until July and are a consequence of the operational limbo in which both centers fell due to the delay of half a year with which the specifications of the new tender for their management were published. A week after the expiration of the contract that had linked the company for eleven years with the most important scenic unit in the region -and probably in Spain-, the Minister of Culture Marta Rivera de la Cruz (initially in Ciudadanos and now appointed as a director by Díaz Ayuso) presented the documents that had been drawn up by the team of the previous counselor, Jaime de los Santos (PP).
The cost of the extension that caused the delay benefits the current contractor, who receives the amount without a call and at his free disposal. And by an extraordinary mechanism, validation, which is reserved for unforeseeable causes or social emergencies to attend to the immediate payment of the invoices presented by the provider. The validations were not created to enable the payment of the expense generated by a ruling in the announcement of a public tender. It was a matter that was foreseen by the previous team and that the opposition warned the counselor in November 2019. However, the Council of the Community of Madrid has been forced to approve every two months, as a result of negligence in management of the contest, a million and a half euros so that the Teatros del Canal do not close until the contest is resolved. In total, more than five million euros will be approved without legal support.
At the end of June, half a year after the conclusion of the contract, the regional government awarded the tender to the joint venture formed by the companies imesAPI and Salzillo, for 19.9 million euros (a similar amount to the previous one). Clece contested the result for lack of transparency, which has just been resolved in favor of the new concession. The ACS company is therefore out of the future of the Teatros del Canal but for seven months it has assumed the task of keeping the center open, with the consequent financial burden while the unit recovered its budgetary normality. In his day, Clece declined to make any consideration on the negotiation of the extraordinary budget that he would present to the Ministry, consulted now about the prolongation of this situation, they have not wanted to make any comment. For its part, Marta Rivera de la Cruz’s team denied this newspaper information about the value of these monthly bills, with the false excuse that “they are not public data.” In addition, in June they assured that “the invoices were in process”, despite the fact that up to two monthly installments had already been paid. Now we know that the cost to the public treasury exceeds 700,000 euros per month.
For the cultural spokesperson for Más Madrid in the Assembly, Jazmín Beirak, this is “a failure in planning the management of public resources” and a coda to the phenomenon of a public theater operated by a private company. “The most serious thing is that there is no public theater project. It does not matter Clece or Salzillo, because they are companies that are going to exploit a resource. It is a loss of opportunity to carry out a public theater project,” he adds. It also points out the deficit of independence that causes the artistic direction and the programming to be delivered by hand and not by public competition. “There are examples that show that public competitions enrich the addresses of the centers,” says Beirak in reference to the director of Teatros del Canal Blanca Li, appointed by Rivera de la Cruz without following a code of good practices.
The new contract allows the artistic direction of the Teatros del Canal to regain the integrity of the programming. For eleven years it was Clece who was responsible for the assemblies for five months a year. Now Marta Rivera de la Cruz recovers the programming, but has not awarded a new budget, that is, with the money previously created by the six-month cartel (those managed by the Community), it will now be made for eleven months. The alarming growth in the average price of admission to the public center has not been long in coming: for the premiere of Pina Bausch in September only two rows have a price of 9 euros, the rest (more than 25 rows) from 25 and up to 40 euros.