Etopia, the arts and technology center of Zaragoza, is cutting back on its cultural programs

A few words from the Catalan artists Tarta Relina (Helena Rose and Marta Torella), who concluded their three-week residency with a recital this Friday, February 9. At Ethiopia Open Innovation Labs Included in the space agreement with the University of Zaragoza, set the alarm. „It's been a brutal joy to get to know this place and Santiago, who's piloting this ship, and for a very short time, it looks like everything's going to hell.”

Mentioned by both is the Huesca musician and researcher Santiago Ladorre. Responsible for the Etopia Sound Laboratory and curator of its artist residency program, among which initiatives such as Fuga, or currently Fuego, have stood out in the past.

As Santiago Ladorre pointed out to the Heraldo, “Apparently, The City Council no longer wants Etopia to be an arts center. And a change has been announced to us, one that is intensely dedicated to entrepreneurship and technology, although they were already part of the essential function of space.”

Contracts and plans

Latour argued that cultural events have been halted, as have creative residencies. „There will be no more when the current resident leaves – he added – the biology, digital production and sound laboratories are jointly managed between the University of Zaragoza and the city council, under a bilateral agreement that expires on May 20. Will not be renewed”. And he added: „The Fuego project, which has just been launched, is now coming to an end in my time. It's hard to leave, but I'm very sad that the work done didn't continue.e: has taken a lot of effort to create a community of creators recognized and appreciated throughout Aragon and Spain and abroad.

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Throughout the day, there was widespread talk on forums and WhatsApp groups that the cultural programs at the center were going to be cut down significantly. That possibility, moreover, has been rumored for weeks. Among other issues, it was suggested that performances or entire cycles of dancer Miguel Angel Perna were canceled, and that Vox's will was behind the center's new philosophy.

According to Councilor Eva Torres, the party has been highly critical of Ethiopia's operation in recent years due to „high costs and low social returns”.

Municipal sources yesterday denied they had changed their policy on the center and said they were „surprised” by the controversy. „Etopia is a municipality-owned center, but its programming is designed and produced by the Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation,” they added. Another patron of that foundation is the City Council, like Ibarcaja or the University of San Jorge. Cultural programs depend on the aforementioned foundation and at no time the city council curtails or restricts anything; In fact, the activities we organize there will take place normally. Ethiopia will continue to be a center of art and technology, and the word art will not 'celebrate' from that creation.

Budget and staff

However, these sources admitted that there were „some concerns” about governance within the trust's board, And they realized that implicitly, even if the results were not entirely their own, the orientation would support change.

„The budget is about one million euros and almost 60 percent goes to staff costs. It is believed that Ethiopia did not have the desired influence within the group, The programming doesn't work as it should and probably needs to reorganize its functionality. But not in the direction of reducing or taking anything away, but rather in the direction of enhancing it, adding more youth or entrepreneurial activities. The concern has come. Councilor for Economy, Digital Transformation and Transparency of the City Council, Carlos Gimeno, when he came to the Council, was logically concerned about the economic health of all the centers assigned to his area. Asked for more information. But nothing else”. The city council repeatedly emphasized: „There are no bans or closures, they are not going to close anything.”

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