Iceta wants to turn Ambassadors into the new axis of contemporary culture

If the Eje del Prado is the golden mile of art with the Reina Sofía Museum, the National Thyssen Museum and the Prado Museum, in the Embajadores roundabout a new cultural axis will emerge where contemporary national culture will be concentrated with the reform integral of Tabacalera and the conversion of the old complex of the Military Pharmacy into the new headquarters of the INAEM. Madrid will be the great beneficiary of the "bet" that is revealed in the General State Budgets of the Minister of Culture Miquel Iceta, the most generous with culture in the history of democracy.

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The General Directorate of Fine Arts undertakes, thanks to the investment from the European Union in the funds of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, one of the reforms in which it shows most pride in the accounts pending approval for 2022: to consolidate the Tabacalera project. "It is the great spatial axis of the dissemination activity of contemporary art is Tabacalera, a model example of participatory and sustainable cultural management". The quotation marks are the objectives declared by the General Directorate of Fine Arts in the General Budgets.

Tabacalera is a center for exhibitions, but also for activities, conferences, workshops, meetings with artists, social forums and social participation. The late 18th century building has an area of ​​8,000 square meters and since 2008 the Ministry of Culture has tried to find a purpose for it, despite the fact that the Lavapiés neighborhood has one of the largest cultural laboratories for citizen management since 2012. . On the part managed by the neighbors a wide variety of cultural activities come together. Culture has tried to create the National Center for Visual Arts there, which failed with the financial crisis, and ended turning its part of the building into a temporary exhibition space.

According to the emphatic text of the second budgets signed by María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco as General Director of Fine Arts but the first with her seal, this center has become, since its conversion into a cultural center in 2003, a "reference space for the dissemination review". The praise continues: "It is a comprehensive model of support for the contemporary art sector", with a "great institutional reception and media impact".

In addition to the exhibitions linked to the promotion of contemporary art, it will be a center with new functions and uses "in charge of various cultural agents." "The project aims to promote the building as a center for creation and a laboratory of ideas and it can become a cultural reference both in the fabric of the neighborhood, in the city and in the territory," they point out from Bellas Artes. The intention is to create a center for residences and studio-workshops for artists. As an example they put the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam or Fabrikken, in Copenhagen or the Academy of Spain itself in Rome. "The biggest novelty of the project with respect to other residency programs in Spain is that it proposes work and living spaces for artists in the same building, which would allow creators and managers to develop a comprehensive work and housing program", it is indicated in the budgets.

The European funds allocated to Tabacalera will deal with the rehabilitation works in the entire envelope (facades, windows, enclosures, roofs), the interior conditioning, improvement of the facilities and a pilot program of activities prior to the opening of the center, always with the "mediation in the cultural fabric of the neighborhood". The rehabilitation works are scheduled to end in 2023 and have a budget of 10.4 million euros. In August of this year, the ministry announced a higher figure to invest in the remodeling of Tabacalera: 12.5 million euros.

From military to creators

One of the main lines of action of the INAEM for 2022 is "to promote as much as possible the presence of artistic units throughout the territory of the State." Madrid will continue to be the headquarters of its artistic creation centers, although they will not limit their performances to the capital. However, the actions on the theatrical infrastructures will focus on rehabilitating the theaters in Madrid and Barcelona. In fact, among the new equipment for the theater there is only one: the conversion of the old Military Pharmacy, also on Embajadores street, as Tabacalera, into a center of uses for the INAEM units.

The infrastructure of these dependencies ceded by the Ministry of Defense to the INAEM in 2015 were created in 1928 as the Central Laboratory of Medicines. In 2017, the PP presented its 20/20 Plan where it was announced for the first time that the former Army headquarters would become a new National Center for the Creation of Performing Arts, where it was also expected to host theater and dance performances. The plan was not executed and since then the transformation has not gone beyond the draft.

Now, the General Budgets include that the Department of Management of Infrastructures and Cultural Equipments "begins the preparation of the tender for the project of rehabilitation and adaptation to cultural uses of the old building of the Military Pharmacy". The director of the INAEM, Amaya de Miguel, definitively activates a project that he already announced in 2018 to occupy the nine buildings that make up this striking complex, which will become rehearsal rooms, artistic residences, INAEM offices and warehouses for the National Classical Theater Company, National Dramatic Center, Zarzuela Theater and headquarters of the Performing Arts and Music Documentation Center.

The INAEM Budgets also recall the creation of a new National Dance Center on the railway floors of the old Delicias station, very close to Calle Embajadores. This space has an area of ​​72,706 square meters and the protocol that the INAEM signed in 2018 with the Madrid City Council and the Railway Infrastructure Administrator (ADIF) is still pending. Now it is indicated that the three entities are looking for "solutions for the improvement and integration in the city" of said space. This last cultural "island" would close the new cultural axis between Embajadores and Delicias.


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