He repeats at the head of the island's cultural policies after a first four-year term crossed by the pandemic and the wounds that this opened in the sector. He now has four years to complete a series of challenges, among which the opening of the Museum of Fine Arts of Gran Canaria stands out at its headquarters in the old San Martín Hospital in Vegueta.
– After four years in the Ministry, what is the state of culture in Gran Canaria?
– They were four important years to position myself as an advisor in the very diverse ecosystem of the behavior of the Canarian cultural industry. Recognize the strengths, in addition to the pandemic context that invited us to become aware of the generosity and notoriety of the island's artistic sector, with those disciplines that are fundamental and that in cultural matters from an industrial point of view have an outstanding performance. This analysis has helped us to guide the policies and lines of projects to be consolidated in this mandate, together with those that will arise at the dawn of the requests of the sector and the needs of society.
– Is it a cliché that in four years there is only time to lay the foundations?
– In public administration that is not a topic in general. But in the cultural field, when we know the nature of the activity, we realize that the results begin to be noticed in the medium and long term.
– What are those singularities of the sector that you talk about?
– The first difficulty is the difficulty of turning and exporting the creation of the islands outside the Canary Islands. We are where we are, which has many advantages, but it has that manifest weakness in exporting these products and connecting them with the national and international panorama. Although the administrative organization between the Canary Islands, the State and Europe can be in line so that the products can continue, this requires coordination, especially the audiovisual sector, which needs local scoring to be able to later obtain financing from the rest of the institutions. And that's more than a challenge. Being able to work in institutions with the same line, and I am not referring to the ideological one. Being able to work within the same framework of cultural management. This is not always the case, unfortunately.
– It seems that there was good harmony in that aspect with the overthrown Pact of Flowers in the regional Executive...
- I miss. The Government of the Canary Islands and the councils work in full harmony, as seen in the Cultural Policies Law itself. That it is a particular law because it is a reference at the national level, but that emanates from that meeting above political ideas. I hope that way of doing things, of working, and that vision of culture from the public perspective can continue now. But, clearly, last summer we have seen how many artistic expressions have been short-circuited.
– When the Law was approved in Parliament, not a single formation was missing from the family photo...
– We need to see that this expression of political good will is still alive, still present, so that we can continue working so that the Canary Islands, for Gran Canaria specifically in the case that concerns me, with a broader perspective. Knowing that what we have in hand is a central issue, with which sometimes it is even difficult for us to commit the government itself in which we are. Obviously culture until now has not occupied the place it deserves, but if we have learned anything so far it is that culture is demanded by society. It is necessary from the development of the critical capacity of a society that little by little is breaking away from that democratic transition that we experienced a few years ago. But I am afraid that some political expressions will return us to the point of origin and separate important pieces and activities.
– How does the sector breathe now?
– I know that it is a sector that is more qualified than it appeared. Many job opportunities have been discovered that were in Gran Canaria and that until now were not available. We have seen each other's faces, looked into each other's eyes. And I have learned to have more rigorous criteria. From my point of view there are certain projects that should not be opportunistic. And I'm talking about macroprojects, which are fundamental for the economy of a society and for leisure. But they do not have to be financed with public money from the cultural sphere. They can receive other types of financing from here, but they are issues that have to do with private aspects. Here we are talking about demanding responsibilities, going into the detail of the contents, that they are free values that we can instill. Work on more transversal lines such as loneliness in the elderly, ecology, issues related to real equality. And all of these questions are pursued by a private project. If I want to enjoy a great musical experience, whatever it may be, I will pay for it with my own money.
– Are you talking about balancing between paying for festivals of 30,000 people and supporting the fabric of more modest creators?
– I prefer to take care of giving space and coverage to that talent that until now has not had the opportunity, so that it can later be placed on a stage before a mass audience. With that seed that is present there. And then collaborate with that other expression which, of course, is also cultural, but does not fall within the purposes of this Ministry at this time and which is compatible with other types of support that may arise from other public funds. Not Culture. Presidency of Cabildo, for example, sponsors many of these shows. Which are not the ones that I would support as Minister of Culture.
– Let the private initiative seek its resources.
– I am in favor of collaborating with private initiatives. And that it be involved in public issues to have a cultured society, which is based on those values that can serve us all. What I am talking about is those projects that only have a private and profit purpose, which is legal, but that must seek financing different from what we can provide from this Ministry.
– Is this part of the conversation between government partners?
- A lot. I always try to fuel that debate, because I think it is healthy and that it leads us to a more coherent line of work. It does not distort the policy that we develop in the Ministry. Rather it complements it.
– How is the opening of the Museum of Fine Arts being resolved, from the different open fronts?
– The civil works are finishing, where the cica is located. We know that it made the project a little difficult because a modification had to be made with a budget increase. It's worth it because it will give you a very particular mark. Regarding the museum, everything is finalized and we plan the opening for next 2024. The personnel and legal structure must be set up well. It is not a question of money, just of materializing the project.
– There were doubts with certain legal requirements...
– The plenary session of the Council and the Presidency Department itself also intervene in this, with all the pertinent reports. Once the figure that will govern this new museum has been resolved, everything else is ready. We have the works, which are in the Casa de Colón and in the CAAM. And we continue buying works to continue feeding it. There is the story and the pieces. The location in San Martín and the money is there. Only that bureaucratic detail is missing.
– Elena Acosta, head of the Casa de Colón, will soon retire, and Guillermo Perdomo will leave the Casa de Tomás Morales. Antonio Padrón's has been without a named address for a year...
– The Cabildo's personnel policy is very complex and each of the museums obeys a different reality. In the case of Colón there will be a logical replacement with a procedure through a list of conservators that will be used by human resources to fill the vacancy. It won't be immediate, as I can see how these things work coming. In the case of Antonio Padrón, the exam was held in July and is now in the claims phase and when it is resolved, the pertinent calls will be made to occupy the position. That does not mean that the museum is not being attended to in the meantime. In the case of the House of Tomás Morales things are different, because at the time there were no lists and he left the house with Guillermo Perdomo, who came from the University.
– What happens with the Díaz Cutillas Foundation?
– It has a particular difficulty that begins at its creation and that is that it does not have assigned personnel. He has had ordinary activity in recent years, even during the pandemic; Now it has an execution problem from 2020 that had to be returned and is being resolved by the Cabildo Intervention. While this happens there is no liquidity to continue its activity. We are working very quickly to make the corresponding payment. Even so, we were able to celebrate El Pino, which until now was organized from there. This year we are looking for a solution to do it through Infecar, for administrative coverage as happens with other events such as those related to Canary Islands Day. We will work with them again and we are looking forward to resuming that programming and working hand in hand with the family.
– What is the great challenge of this mandate that is beginning?
– Internal challenges. That there are many. Personnel organization, which are usually the most complicated because they encounter a lot of resistance, with vices that must be removed and started with new work ideas. Adjust these issues in different departments. And the Casa de Colón occupies us a lot, with a new idea that will come from the person who occupies that responsibility. And of course the Museum of Fine Arts, which I believe is not only the star project of the Ministry of Culture but of the entire Cabildo of Gran Canaria.