April 18, 2021

Spain gives Morocco the Gran Teatro Cervantes de Tangier | Culture

Spain gives Morocco the Gran Teatro Cervantes de Tangier | Culture


The Council of Ministers, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has approved the "irrevocable donation" of the property of the Gran Teatro Cervantes de Tangier Morocco. Negotiations to get rid of what was the largest scenic space in North Africa – with capacity for 1,400 people – started in 2016, with the Executive of Mariano Rajoy. Now, Josep Borrell, responsible for Foreign Affairs, has championed the initiative to give the Kingdom of Morocco the theater of 106 years, completely abandoned and propped up, which in 1928 was acquired by the Government of Miguel Primo de Rivera.

"It is a property of undoubted architectural and cultural value that requires a heavy investment for its rehabilitation, which the different Spanish administrations have not been able to offer, and, having studied the possible options for its implementation, it was decided to proceed to its assignment to Morocco, responding to the offer of the Moroccan Government to restore and manage the theater in exchange for the transfer of their property and with the commitment to maintain a Spanish component in the cultural programming, taking place the reversion of the property to Spain in case the restoration of the property was not carried out or it was destined for purposes other than those agreed, "sources from Moncloa explain.

The signing of the delivery of an important part of the Spanish architectural heritage is provided that Morocco is responsible for its restoration, the new equipment and the consolidation of the creation of a future polyvalent cultural center. It will no longer be a theater exclusively and the restoration of the building would involve an investment of five million euros. The last time that Spain allocated a game for the conservation of the building in ruins was 10 years ago, with 94,134 euros, insufficient for the consolidation of the historic building. However, only its ruin has been consolidated. In fact, in 2006 an agreement between Morocco and Spain agreed to its cultural use, but it was never put into practice. The theater lived at full capacity until the eighties and in 1993 staged its last function, an exhibition of photographs. And from then until today it has remained abandoned.

Exterior of the Cervantes Theater, in an archive image.
Exterior of the Cervantes Theater, in an archive image.

Even though José Manuel García Margallo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, closed the assignment, the delivery is made official today. The socialist deputy for the province of Cádiz, Salvador de la Encina, has been interested in this assignment and has asked two parliamentary questions at this time of the writing of the transfer protocol. Thanks to his questions, it could be known that, after a tug-of-war with the neighboring country, the theater would be used "for the purposes of public utility, social interest and the promotion of both Spanish and Moroccan culture". In addition, it is confirmed that the management of the programming of the space will fall on a mixed Spanish and Moroccan commission to decide the activities, although Morocco preferred that the commission be valid only during the restoration works.

Salvador de la Encina himself believes that it is not a loss of the Spanish architectural legacy: "Right now, what a worse patrimony than the abandoned one! A very positive agreement has been reached, because the building is recovered although Spain loses ownership. In addition, in this way, we will strengthen ties with Morocco in the face of the most urgent problems such as immigration and jihadism. Everything that is the implantation of our culture is correct. The theater is not lost, because it was lost. And we won in cooperation with Morocco. We should not see it as a loss, "says the Socialist deputy.

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