ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN “HÄNSEL I GRETEL”                                                                   May 27th 2020



Winds are not favorable for live performing arts as we know them, or for their much-needed social recognition. We have been suspecting how important that recognition is, but we haven’t been able to reach it. Not by a wide margin, and not even when winds were a bit more favorable.

These past days, I have been reading and hearing that we have to go back to normal as soon as possible (even if many of us think that normal is the problem), and the very first cultural action that Barcelona City Hall announces as a live concert for the citizenship during lockdown, triggers great controversy when the expense of that action is disclosed.

Leaving if either the proposed action or the price were adequate on the side, what worries me the most is the lack of empathy people have for our sector (even if all or most of them read, listen to music, watch tv shows, make virtual visits to a museum that might be in any part of the world, or enjoy a recorded performance, all of them offered with not many resources, as it is our normal), and how little knowledge there is regarding the work behind any kind of artistic expression. Here’s an example: we can all understand that what we pay for a pair of jeans from big commercial brands includes the material used, the design of the jeans, the sewing of the jeans, the person that sells the jeans, the person that delivers the jeans to the shop we buy them in, the space of the shop itself, the advertising on which that trendy IT girl appears…

And of course, there are independent creators that propose other organization formulas with less intermediaries, but a lot of social changes are needed in order to make those initiatives sustainable and stable on the market. And even in those cases, a team is needed. Even if it’s a small one.

The performing arts industry is on a dead-end right now, and this lockdown needs to be dedicated to an intense and structural re-formulation (even if that’s something a lot of people don’t want to do): “Stop acting and start thinking” (as the EXIT cycle of conferences held this year at Nau Ivanow called it. By the way, that cycle was a great example of how to react, adapting the cycle to lockdown, making it viable through streaming, showing flexibility and finding new opportunities in a very uncertain moment. Bravo!)

I think that the live performing arts sector has to use this exceptional situation we are living in, to open our minds, stimulate our creativity and find new ways to relate to each other:

  1. A) With ourselves, our own sector: respecting all the professionals in that value chain in order to be more sustainable, resilient, and, at the same time, open our artistic vision to the world.
  2. B) With our surroundings and other people: Looking for more complicities and recognition that will bring more resources that are very much needed to get away from precariousness.
  3. C) With the administrations: defending culture as an essential asset and making artistic education a mandatory part of curricular activities at school.

Now more than ever, we have to look ourselves in the eye, be honest, and keep ourselves from making pies in the skies in order not to become social accomplices.


INTERNAL RELATION: Sharing, observing, learning and respecting.

We are alive, and therefore, everything is possible.

Let’s harness every bit of information we have, and share it. Let’s look for alliances, co-create, join efforts and adapt. Now more than ever, we have to let fear and immobilism on the side and we have to walk together from a place of generosity. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t walk that walk impulsively. We have to be intelligent, doing less and better, give a lot of thought to the story we are telling and run away from precariousness. We need original, singular and insightful eyes and minds.

It is rather curious that in a highly creative sector as the performing arts, we work not taking in account many others that are on the same boat as we are, and our own individual needs take much more importance that the needs of our fellow trip companions.

One of the main things that have happened these days is that those projects that managed to adapt to this new reality (conferences, festivals, events, …) have reached more people than ever. Many more than the people that would have attended in person. That generated an aperture to the world, breaking the walls of physicality. All of a sudden, the Catalan cultural world has opened its doors without any prejudice, and professionals from all over the world got in. Let’s think about that! We planted a seed that has to be watered and taken care of in order to become a valued collective, strong and capable of generating recognition. Let’s lead in our home a new way to do things, to make the world healthier, smarter, more critic and sustainable.

In fact, the sanitary crisis has produced quite the unthinkable: the whole performing arts sector has become aware of its collective strength and made a proposal with 52 measures to the Ministry of Culture, and with a lot of effort from everybody, a decree has been made to be able to walk this uncertain path with a little bit more of optimism. That is the way: to find opportunities and become accomplices!



We have been talking about an involved audience for a while now. We have been including some shy actions to link the audience with the creative process itself as of lately. We, should, however, be bolder than that, and throw the audience much more daring challenges. Let’s collaborate regularly with other sectors (health, social care, education, …) and let’s get them involved with the creation itself. Let’s work on their belonging and implication and let’s make their projects happen. And from that reciprocal generosity, let’s enjoy the learning that those processes bring to our field. We shouldn’t look for an immediate result that achieves artistic excellence (all will come in due time!). Let’s investigate, try new things, work together, hear what we all have to say, observe… And let’s find those new ways to relate to the whole of society.

Some days ago, the brilliant Amadeu Carbó and I had a long conversation about culture and life, and he put this question on my table: What do you think is more necessary when you find yourself before death? To enjoy an artistic expression or a respirator?

After giving it a lot of thought, I’m under the conviction that we have to be able to have art with us in each and every stage of our lives. Art connects us to the deeper parts of ourselves as individuals and is an extraordinary ally that takes care of us until death. And this kind of art can only be possible with honesty and walking the way with every agent of the process. Caring for the art as it cares for us.

We live in a moment where deep and important relational changes are happening across the globe. Culture and performing arts can become essential tools to overcome the challenges that this situation is throwing at us, and to understand the need to live with more respect and sensitivity towards our environment, creating more coherent and sustainable habits.



Culture is one of those words that look good in any political speech. But there’s more to it than just using that word for your own speech and to accommodate the consumer’s taste. Politics have to believe themselves when they say that culture is an essential and indispensable asset to any society that works for equality.

More often than not, people that belong to the sector come from disciplines related to letters, and not science. Emotion versus reason. And we need “reason” to be able to negotiate public budgets for culture that let us overcome this second-rate status we are in, and become an essential service. This wave of people that demands a budget of 2% is just the beginning of a movement that we hope achieves what it stands for. We also hope that this exceptional situation we are living doesn’t bury that movement altogether yet again.

However, the Administration can lead the way to recognize culture not only with a public budget, but also positioning arts in society with complicity from Education. This needs to be worked on from the base. If we want Culture to be recognized socially, we need to nurture that recognition from school itself. And not in a residual or extracurricular manner, but regularly and in a curricular basis. In a world that’s becoming more and more uncertain, emotional and social skills that come with the practice and attendance of the arts might be the turning point in order to reach, in some years, a better world, more caring, more equal, more hopeful and with more opportunities.

Let’s promote artistic expression as a vital experience while we recognize Culture and all the professionals that make it possible. We are living in a unique moment and we have to harness that moment the best way we can.

See you in life!


Gisela Juanet
Project Chief at VIU EL TEATRE


Thank you for your inspiring advice, Aina Juanet, Amadeu Carbó, Lluís Juanet, Mercè Espuny i Toni Montero.

You can read it in the link of Hänsel i Gretel:

Gisela Juanet – L’expressió artística com a experiència vital