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WorldA very sweet 2023 for Asturian culture

A very sweet 2023 for Asturian culture

That an Asturian essay surpasses the barrier of two editions and 1,400 copies sold is not something that has happened many times in Asturian publishing history. David Guardado He achieved it in 2023 with a book that broke the glass ceiling of literature written in Asturian, reaching wider audiences than the traditional readers of a minority and unofficial language, with few speakers, and even fewer readers. “Never defeated”which has just now also been released in Spanish, is without a doubt one of the great cultural news of 2023. As before “There is no country”of Xuan Candano, has shown that there is a public eager to read, debate and reflect on the Asturian past, present and future. Both books open an editorial path, or rather, they reopen it, traveling along the path of the Asturian essay, a genre that in the 70s had pioneers such as Pedro de Silva, Juan Cueto either Amelia Valcárcel, but which was later closed due to lack of explorers. It is likely that these will not be the last titles of what we could call this “new Asturian essay.” Good news, but there is more.

2023 has undoubtedly been a fertile year for Asturian culture. The cultural vitality of a territory of barely one million inhabitants, and also with a marked aging of its population, is striking. In few fields is this contrast as noticeable as in music, one of the great specialties of the house. In November the Llanerans Desakato They said goodbye to their audience in a massive concert held at the Wizink Center of Madridlittle joke, and this December Rockdeluxe He crowned his list of the best Spanish LPs and EPs of the year with two Asturian albums. The debut of Cachito Turulo, “Crisper in the Hi Hat”on the Oviedo seal International Smokeand the latest of Rodrigo Cuevas, “Pilgrimage Manual”.

Desakato. Photo: Álvaro Amieva/Desakato

Special mention deserves Rodrigo Cuevas, one of the most influential Asturian and Spanish artists of his generation, in a year marked by the success of his tours inside and outside the country, the National Prize for Current Musichis literary debut and above all the opening of The Beneficaperhaps its most ambitious project, an adventure that is now seeking new partners to complete its remodeling as a theater and cultural center in L´Infiestu, Piloña. The opening party, held in May, was also the celebration of that spring that the rural Asturian cultural scene is experiencing. “La Benéfica puts the ramu to a different Asturies” title with a good eye the writer, musician and editor Xaime Martínez his chronicle of the event for NORTH.

Rodrigo Cuevas holds his latest album, Manual de romería.
Rodrigo Cuevas holds his latest album, Manual de romería. | Photo: Alisa Guerrero

Another long-awaited inauguration was that of Slaughterhouse Onereopening of the historic Ojanguren, now with a much more modern bookstore format and with a large area for cultural activities and book presentations. Both Matadero and future cinemas Ambassadors-Foncalada or the project of a ship powered by the Kuivi in Industrial Warehousesare signs of a cultural vitality in Oviedo that continues to beat below, at a social level, and that contrasts with the apathy of a new local government of the PP alone, without Citizensand which has been launched with cuts and elimination of important activities, while it has not expressed any interest in safeguarding the heritage of the Gas and La Vega factories, two emblematic complexes over which the threat of a significant disfigurement to accommodate large blocks of housing.

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Inauguration of Matadero Uno. Semeya d’Iván G. Fernández

In the most populated city of Asturies, Xixonthe arrival of Vox to I had funthe public entity on which the Jovellanos Theater and the FICXunleashed a wave of criticism of the undisguised attempts to Oliver Suarez for censoring some of his obsessions, such as cultural production in Asturian. When the ultras threatened to put an ideological hand in the FICX Carmen Moriyon took advantage of the fundamentalist’s misstep Sara Alvarez Rouco, break ties with Vox and stay, yes, with Suárez as a non-attached councilor, thus shielding the majority of Foro and PP in the municipal plenary session. Expelling a partner as problematic as Vox was a decision that had surely been discussed for some time in the forum leadership, but the incident over the FICX It allowed us to accelerate by providing a beautiful story to one of the most skillful politicians in Asturies.

After this twist in the script, the future of Gijón’s cultural policy remains an unknown in a city that has historically been the locomotive of Asturian culture, highlighted by its strong commitment to cinema, music, literature and the visual and performing arts. It remains to be seen what happens.

Demonstration of musicians in Xixón, with Leticia Baselgas from LR singing
Leticia Baselgas, from LR, Antón Caamaño, David Varela and Boni Pérez at the press conference in defense of cultural production in Asturian. Photo: David Aguilar Sánchez.

If in Xixón the ultras tried to impose their cultural authoritarianism, in Mieres Rocío Antelasuccessor of Juan Ponte in the council of Culture He offered the mining council as a refuge for artists canceled by the administrations governed by the right. I was born like this Resistance Boxa cultural program that premiered this September with “I die because I don’t die (The double life of Teresa)”playwright’s show Paco Bezerra withdrawn by order of PP of Isabel Diaz Ayuso of the Canal Theaters. In this way, Antela managed to place Mieres, with 21,000 inhabitants, in the national media, and build a story of community pride around culture and the transformation of the mining basins into a space for artistic creation. A bet he has on Pozu Santa Barbara its great emblem.

Muero porque no muero 29 sept 2023 57 Alisa Guerrero
Paco Bezerra and Rocío Antela in Mieres. Photo: Alisa Guerrero

Asturian film production also gave good news in 2023. “Writer” of Carlos Navarro and Maxi Rodriguezand “Notes on a summer”of Diego Llorente, managed to gain a foothold in commercial movie theaters. In the field of non-fiction, the new films of Elisa Cepedal, Alex Galan, Celia Viada, Samu Fuentes, Ivan Menendezseveral of them with financing from the RTPAachieved a good reception in the FICXin which Asturian titles are increasingly relevant in their own right, and not as a “domestic quota”.

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Filming of “Notes from a Summer”, by Diego Llorente.

In the chapter of the great cultural containers the Museum of Fine Arts of Asturias continues on the crest of the wave, breaking visitor records, more than 120,000, figures that will grow even more with its future expansion, which will incorporate a cafeteria-restaurant on its privileged roof terrace, with views of the Cathedral. In Aviles he Niemeyerafter paying its historic financial debt, faces the future with healthy accounts that have allowed it to schedule exhibitions this year as ambitious as “Turn inside out inside out” either “Fighters”. As to LABoral Art Centerafter years of comings and goings in which there was even speculation about a possible closure, has experienced a true renaissance in 2023 thanks to the new management headed by Pablo de Soto. More exhibitions, more own production, more international projects and a political will to use contemporary art to talk about climate change, feminism, social inequality or historical memory are marking this new stage of recovery of the center of Gijón. Finally, LABoral has opened up to critical themes and discourses that have been hegemonic in contemporary art centers around the world for more than a decade, but that for some strange reason had not reached Asturies until now.

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“The world is viesca” at LABoral Art Center. Photo: David Aguilar Sánchez

It is therefore an extremely attractive panorama seen as a whole, with a dynamism and vitality that make it Asturias a small great cultural power in many areas. An effervescence at the base that contrasts with political decisions, from above, difficult to explain such as the move from Culture from counseling to vice-counselling. Because?

Recently the journalist and cultural producer Xicu Ariza presented in the General Meeting of the Principality a detailed report in which it was revealed how, despite having much less public support than other communities, the Asturian cultural industry already generates almost 3% of employment. Why not take advantage of that vein to promote an industry like culture, with high added value and enormous social return? Ariza asked himself at the parliamentary headquarters. 2024 should be how to answer that question.

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