Alejandro Krawietz The Insular Directorate of Culture took office last September at a complex time. Cultural manager, art and literature critic, former director of the MiradasDoc festival in Guía de Isora and poet, his arrival at the Cabildo of Tenerife It occurred at a time marked by the pandemic, and also in the midst of a crisis in the department of which it is now a part, which was resolved with the dismissal of his predecessor, Leopoldo Santos, and the subsequent replacement of Concepción Rivero by Enrique Arriaga in the Ministry of Culture. Added to all this, he details in this interview, the need to address a cultural strategy that ends the imbalances of previous island governments.
-At the end of September, he joined the Insular Directorate of Culture, at a difficult time for everyone, also for his area, due to the pandemic we are experiencing. Was the management model clear from the beginning in exceptional time?
“Much of this exceptionality is already covered by the health security protocols, to reconcile the restrictions to which the pandemic forces us and the need to continue with cultural programming. Also in this objective it has been essential to speed up to the maximum the processes that allow to translate the financing, the aid, that the sector needs and, as far as possible, not to interrupt its activity.
-A few days ago they presented the new cultural strategy. From the outset it seems that the main challenges are precisely to help the sector so that jobs or activities are not destroyed and, also, to get the public to go to the proposals.
“What it is about is to build a space of continuity in this complex time, as I have pointed out. But not only that. We must also work thinking about when we will overcome the pandemic. And in this structure, one aspect that I consider very important is that the activity that is programmed is supported by the competitive competition in the grant lines. [los proyectos que se benefician de ayudas son seleccionados entre los que se presentan en un plano de igualdad, en función del grado de adecuación a unos criterios predeterminados]. This should be the great tool for dialogue with the sector, because it is what allows their participation to be more open and more transparent ”.
-Another factor that they have influenced is the need to end the imbalance in the island’s cultural activity.
“Yes. And that entails a huge amount of dialogue and work in common with the municipalities. To find a balance in financing, but also in terms of territory. There have been times when the metropolitan area and certain sectors of culture have accounted for a large part of the Cabildo’s budget in this area. We want to turn all this around, in the short, medium and long term, so that the changes do not lead to business interruptions ”.
-In a meeting with Aimca, the Canarian Music Industry Association, the possibility was put on the table for the production companies, that is, the private sector, to participate in the programming of the Tenerife Auditorium. How do you evaluate this proposal?
“The role played by the cultural leisure and entertainment industries is undoubtedly very important, and in our strategy we want, for example, to implement new lines of subsidies. But it is also necessary to separate what is the culture of creation from the leisure and entertainment industry. They are different territories and each one has specific needs. Creating a cultural structure means meeting these differences and the needs of each area ”.
“Here a policy of the event has prevailed, of what happens on a stage, over other disciplines”
-How does the Cabildo want to express this differentiation?
“As I have pointed out, we want there to be a subsidy line for cultural industries; also that certain sponsorships and spaces are reserved for them, with the aim that they are not used indiscriminately, as has been done in the past. Criteria must be met, which have to do with the return on investment and others, which promote leisure and entertainment activity, while not conditioning the development of proposals linked to the culture of creation, which is where , preferably, the public must intervene: those activities where the greatest profitability is not economic, but directly cultural and social ”.
-And in the specific case of a space like the Auditorium?
“There is a proposal for it to offer dates in its calendar for the development of these types of activities. The Auditorio de Tenerife has a professional side and that is where they have a place. In the same way that we want to promote the celebration of congresses. It is about ordering a space so that each of the parts that make it up fulfills the function that corresponds to it. The Auditorium has to do with the production and activity of the Cabildo around, for example, the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra or the opera season, but it can be opened to companies with a leisure and entertainment calendar that makes sense ”.
“The literary space has lived in a state of abandonment and we are now correcting that”
-He came to office in the midst of a crisis in the area of Culture that, among other things, was resolved with the replacement of Concepción Rivero, by his partner in Ciudadanos Enrique Arriaga, at the head of the council. Was this circumstance an added difficulty when dealing with the management of the department?
“In any moment. From the beginning Enrique Arriaga and I have been a team. We share, for example, that it is necessary to balance the territory, working together with the municipalities, in the cultural management of the Cabildo; We also agreed that competitive competition should be part of this strategy… Therefore, what we did was get to work immediately. As a result of this work, the processes that were interrupted by the pandemic and confinement were resumed in October; A great effort has been made to help the network of municipal scenic spaces to be reactivated as soon as possible … In short, we have both interpreted the situation in a very close way and we agree on the need to get down to work to overcome these difficulties”.
-For many years, the Ministry of Culture was in charge of nationalist governments. How deep has the change been in the management model that you have wanted to implement?
“As soon as we arrived, we made a diagnosis, in tune with the evaluations carried out at the beginning of the mandate. This analysis includes the confusion between cultural leisure and entertainment industries and creative culture. On the other hand, there are also the imbalances between the metropolitan area and the rest of the island territory, in terms of investment and activities carried out. So we went to work to end these and other imbalances. And the search for balance is closely related to the need for each cultural field to do what is its own and that is of interest ”.
“Culture cannot focus only on the metropolitan area and on certain sectors”
-An imbalance that, he says, has also occurred even between the different fields and disciplines that make up cultural activity.
“Yes. The scenic sectors have been counting on more budget than others. Here there has been much a cultural policy of the event and the activity that takes place on a stage has prevailed over that which takes place in an art room, in a conference space or even in a book. We saw that there were practically no activities related to literature or support lines for publishing. That has already been corrected ”.
-It is presumably that to address a change in model of this scope, it is necessary to meet with many interlocutors to reach consensus.
“Yes. Once there is that diagnosis, we work with a very clear ambition to achieve the goals, but it is also a process characterized by patience and generosity. Dialogue with the sector is an absolutely necessary factor. And that’s where we are. In generating a more open cultural space, with an activity of maximum interest and without adding unnecessary crises to the one we already have with the pandemic. We know where we want to go and what we must do to try to get there ”.
-After the departure of Alejandro Abrante as mayor of Ópera de Tenerife and Giulio Zappa as artistic director of Opera (e) Studio, what is the idea you are working on for the development of the opera season at the Auditorio de Tenerife?
“In principle we are going to maintain the activity in the terms in which it was planned. In May, or at the beginning of June, the new season will be presented and, in parallel, we are building a new structure that we want to incorporate into our strategy ”.
-What do you plan to do with the Cabildo Library, which at the time came to play a notable role in disseminating the publishing projects that emerged on the Island and in the Archipelago?
“It is necessary to separate the management of the leisure and entertainment industry from the culture of creation”
“This is a medium-term project for which we want to have the sector. The problem, the state of the Baudet Theater building, is on the table and we are working to maintain the building and make decisions about the renovation and future uses of the property ”.
-Before you mentioned, when talking about the imbalances in cultural management, the almost absence of policies related to literature and publishing. How is this change of course reflected?
“We have a comprehensive project around literature, which will translate into work with creators and creators, but also with members of the world of publishing and distribution. There is a sector, that of bookstores, with which we want to strengthen ties that are fundamental. Distribution systems must be strengthened. In just a few years there have been great transformation processes that we cannot ignore. The result of this dialogue will also be the source of the definitive solution for the Cabildo Library. We are very clear that it is necessary for literature to occupy the space it deserves based on the quality of the work that creators develop. This literary space has lived in a state of abandonment. Fortunately, what is not lacking on the island is talent, in literature and in many other artistic disciplines that have not had the necessary accommodation in the cultural policies of the Cabildo. An example of this is also the audiovisual sector ”.
-And in terms of citizenship, in relation to the creation of new audiences or the promotion of reading, where does this new strategy go?
“The promotion of reading has a lot to do with what we have talked about: the mediation that we can do between creative processes and the way in which they are then channeled to citizens is fundamental. In the same way that it is to promote critical interpretation in the exhibitions of contemporary art, theater or cinema that we program. It is an exercise that will be very present in all our proposals. We want to take advantage of that maturity of citizenship towards culture, which has even been revealed during the pandemic. I believe that citizens have responded very well to the new systems of participation in cultural life, and that is a lesson that we have taken note of. In the same way that in TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes we work to bring its contemporary art collection closer to the public, which, among many other things, relates us to our territory and to the present ”.