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The Arts Factories initiative encourages cultural creation with a clear intention to diversify creative activity within different parts of the city.
Name of the project:
Arts Factories in Barcelona.
Name of the initiator and excecuting party:
Whenever possible, the City Council promotes the physical transformation of spaces (the centres are municipal buildings) but intends to transfer the regular management of each space to the city’s artistic community. The management of the facility will be the responsibility of representative artistic associations, with the exception of the Fabra i Coats facility, because of its multidisciplinary and non specialized character.
The forerunner and main actor of this project is Barcelona’s Council, through the Institute of Culture of Barcelona, taking into account that from the beginning, and even now, the Council has kept in regular communication with the different cultural sectors. Therefore, the planning of the different factories is intended to fulfil the different needs of these sectors and groups.
Barcelona’s Council finances the project and coordinates the factories at the outset but plans to transfer the management of the buildings to the associations and groups which use them in the short term. So, Barcelona’s Council has an ongoing commitment to the development of this project.
Once these different factories are operational, the City Council’s role will be limited because the political aim is that these new spaces should be managed by the groups and associations that represent the varied range of sectors and subsectors within Barcelona’s arts field.
Goals (e.g. policy, research or other):
Barcelona has continued to develop its cultural infrastructure over the last two decades (new museums, theatres and libraries have been promoted), raising its profile as a cultural city. However a large deficit needs to be covered on artistic production facilities and resources. In this context, the main purpose of this initiative is to increase the city’s public venues networks for experimental and creative work in different artistic fields. It plans to transform Barcelona’s outstanding buildings into spaces that generate culture – artistic creation factories - and hand them over to groups and associations in order to help stimulate the city’s creativity.
Barcelona has been always committed to the most contemporary artistic production so, in this way, this project represents the city's wish to maintain its position at the forefront of European creative initiatives.
As an initiative of revitalization and promotion of concrete areas of the city, the arts factories network is spread over five districts (Barcelona has ten districts). At present, there are four factories working, totally or partially.
On the one hand, the Arts Factories’ network provides professionals and, consequently, citizens in general, with the much needed spaces for the development of creativity in its most artistic sense; and on the other hand, the network becomes a tool for the redistribution of this creativity among different quarters in order to revitalize the areas where the factories are placed.
The Art Factories’ network is made up of the following centres:
It is also important to make clear that as part of the Arts Factory Programme, there is support to the whole network of initiatives and autonomous spaces of private property. This network has been developing for a long time, a targeted effort to promote emerging creators.
Start of the project (if applicable end of the project):
The Art Factories project stems from the reflections held during the making of the Barcelona Strategic Cultural Plan. This plan confirms the efficiency of some existing initiatives of a mixed public and private nature and states the need to enhance the feasibility of amateur, semi-professional and professional initiatives in Barcelona's artistic creativity field.
The Art Factories Programme was presented by the City Council in October 2007 as one of the main strategic actions in the cultural field. During 2007 work was started in order to establish the first Art Factory.
Place of excecution:
Barcelona in Spain.
Why is your project considered as a best-practice:
It is still rather early to state that the Art Factories project has been a success for the city’s cultural and arts development and also for the development of the different areas which the implementation of these factories is supposed to promote. Nevertheless, providing spaces that have been improved and tailored to the sector’s needs can only further enhance Barcelona’s artistic and creative activity.
The main problem that emerges is the re-configuration of the spaces. The creative factories have been placed in old buildings, a lot of them old industrial factories, that are part of the city’s architectural patrimony and this makes their renovation as spaces for creation, rehearsal and exhibition more difficult. To the important municipal investment that any architectural project needs should be added the costs for maintaining the heritage value of the buildings. In addition, there is the difficulty of restoring a building for specific functions without any standards of how it has to be done.
On the other hand, the other problem that the Council has to face is to find a way to meet the demands of each sector and subsector without compromising the viability of the project. Although the Council may listen and take into account all the groups’ requests, it has to decide which factories projects will be of more benefit to the city globally and in particular to the cultural sector.
Finally, we need to consider the difficulty that sometimes faces the factories’ management from the entities and groups that do not have a suitable professional training. The application of such projects in other cities is possible and, indeed, there are already similar initiatives in other European cities like Paris, Berlin or London. However, the City Council has to explain to its citizens that these kinds of project are not just for the creators but for society in general because they help to promote the cultural offer of the city. It is necessary, therefore, to sign contracts with the entities that specify what the city gets in return for its support via visiting days for the citizens, exhibitions, etc.
Best response to the project:
Jordi Martí, Barcelona Culture Councillor:
Barcelona Art Factories is an initiative of the local Institute of Culture to increase available spaces and resources for training, creativity, research and art production in the city. Up to new 30,000 sq metres are being promoted in former industrial sites to host cultural and artistic incubators in close cooperation with local cultural sector. To strengthen the production of cultural excellence is identified through this programme as a strategic priority in local cultural policies.
Links to websites and/or social media: