I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend, Dominika.
In the summer of 2020, the world emerged from the first wave of Covid-19 and restrictions were temporarily eased – public venues opened and events resumed.
In an effort to show support for the arts and culture, Madrid’s museum “El Prado” and the Association of Flamenco Venues in Madrid joined forces to celebrate World Tourism Day on 27 September with a video where leading figures of flamenco and Spanish dance performed in front of the masterpieces of the museum’s exhibiton “Reencuentro” [Reunited]. The performance under the artistic direction of Antonio Najarro, flamenco dancer, wished to establish a dialogue between dance and fine art, showcasing the link that culture creates connecting and transcending borders.
The National Museom of Prado and flamenco are both fundamental parts of the Spanish culture and to many, also of the Spanish identity. In this joined up approach, they wanted to create a case in support of art and culture, that were so badly hit by the pandemic. During Covid, flamenco venues shut for extended periods, resulting in the permanent closure of many, including the famous Casa Patas. It is a real shame because “tablaos” [flamenco venues] are not only a cultural, touristic and economic value for Spain but they are also the “face” of Spain to many outsiders and visitors.
The performers in the Prado museum included Antonio Najarro (artistic director and castanets performer), Manuel Liñán, Olga Pericet, Eduardo Guerrero and Jesús Carmona (flamenco dancers), Cristina Cazorla (bolera school) and María Mezcle (flamenco singer). The video had enormous success with more than 4 million views. Check it out, it is wonderful.
A year later, the Prado museum and the Association of Flamenco Venues have come together again to celebrate the bond between two of the most representative and international emblems of Spanish culture and identity: the Prado collections and flamenco. This time around, the occasion was International Flamenco Day on the 16th of November that also commemorated the anniversary of the declaration of flamenco as part of Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
The artistic director of the piece was again Antonio Najarro, and counted with the participation of great flamenco dancers such as, María Moreno Pérez, Eduardo Guerrero, Patricia Guerrero, Alfonso Losa and Antonio Najarro and Spanish dancer, Cristina Cazorla.
The idea of the video was to open the doors to culture, literally and metaphorically and invite the Spanish society to take part in cultural activities again, following the easing of restrictions. Their intention was to pass on the idea that the artistic world is keen to be reunited with the public.
Without public there is no culture.
In the video, there is also the hope and perhaps even a request for society to support creators, as a group massively impacted by the pandemic. The Prado’s doors open as a symbol of all of the doors of the tablaos, museums, theaters, operas, musicals, concerts, to sum up, the doors of cultural life.
The doors are still open and waiting for visitors. Following a period of limits on visitor numbers and shorter opening hours, most places resumed pre-Covid rules. It feels great to be back to concerts and exhibitions, see art live again, after 2 years of Covid misery. I encourage everyone to return to cultural venues and enjoy the work of either contemporary or historic artists, show support to the creators, as our and their souls, we all need it!