A youthful perspective on roots, promoted by Fira Mediterrània, is solidified
- Fira's commitment – expressed through the present, young people, a vision, and embodied in its opening show – takes shape and takes root over the four intensive days of the Fira.
- Roots interpreted free of artistic constraints and in front of live audiences, key aspects of this year's event.
- The success of the new ÀreaPro location: the central location of the Taverna and Casa Lluvià in the new space in the Jardí del Casino is a great choice that can be capitalised on in future events.
- An increase in accredited professionals reflecting the recovery of the sector, which has been able to combine the advantages of both in-person and online gatherings this year.
- On Friday, the spaces holding artistic events were restored to 100% capacity, a milestone that goes beyond the Fira but was a very welcome surprise for this 24th event.
- Despite the limited room for manoeuvre, ticket sales reached an average of 81% of the general occupancy of the Fira's spaces (data from midday Sunday).
The 24th Fira Mediterrània de Manresa draws to a close, and there are many reasons why this event should be celebrated.
The first is philosophical, foundational: the discourse of the Fira has taken root. The three basic and universal pillars that underpin the corpus of the Mediterranean – young emerging artists who use roots as their raw material; contemporary perspectives that incorporate roots as an ingredient in their projects; and the present, centred on the intrinsic relationship between culture and education – have been manifested and brought to life over the course of these four intensive days, and the opening concert was the best example of this. A delicate yet powerful balance between tradition and contemporaneity was perfectly exemplified on Thursday evening at the Teatre Kursaal, where the Orquestra de Músiques d'Arrel de Catalunya (OMAC) premiered Trencadís, its first show, which made it clear that the effervescent spirit of roots in the here and now suggests a promising future lies ahead. The talent and uninhibited creativity of addressing tradition while linking it to the poetry of contemporary writers was a perfect representation of the ethos that runs through the programme of the 24th Fira Mediterrània, and which we can confirm has successfully taken root in Manresa.
Another reason for celebration is more contextual in nature, but no less momentous, and is sure to linger in our memories: the Fira began with COVID-19 restrictions in place, but that was to change on the second day, when on Friday morning the full capacity of its venues was restored. This was great news for both the cultural sector and the Fira, allowing more tickets to go on sale for many of the shows that were already sold out. The ending of some of the restrictions, as in the recently approved PROCICAT plan, which allows castells (human tower displays) with up to 160 people, also made it possible to resume street performances, such as the castellers in the Plaça de la Fira on Saturday morning.
ÀreaPRO in the centre
One consequence of the pandemic that we can celebrate is the relocation of the ÀreaPro headquarters. The new venue for the meeting point and professional activities, moved to the centre of Manresa this year with the Taverna (located in the Jardí del Casino) and the Casa Lluvià, has proved to be a success. Last year the Fira had to be flexible with the pandemic in full force, but this year it has prevailed by optimising some of the measures adopted to cope with the restrictions. The proximity between spaces, the location in the city centre and the new area in the Jardí del Casino have been very well received. The feedback from the professionals has been very positive, and although there is room for improvement, the general consensus is that this change should remain in place for future events.
Another COVID-related change which is also here to stay is the transition to digital. The incorporation of streaming has been retained for some of the in-person professional activities and some of the artistic ones. So the talks, round tables, presentations, debates and quick meetings, which have regained their physical aspects, could also be followed live via a screen. Crises are a good opportunity to create added value, and now, a significant part of Fira Mediterrània's professional programme can be enjoyed both in person and remotely, with the added option of viewing them later.
More accredited professionals
If we are talking about the ÀreaPro, we naturally need to talk about figures and indicators that reflect the state of the sector. We can confirm that the number of professionals increased in comparison to last year, from 1,195 to 1,231 accredited individuals (1,008 from Catalonia, 139 from the rest of Spain and 84 from abroad). However, the value of the Fira is not just in the numbers, but in the activity generated by these professionals. For example, the Professional Conferences sold out their venues, even after they were restored to 100% capacity, and we cannot forget the online audience, which as of today totals 281 views. With regard to the quick meetings, another objective indicator of activity resumption, they accounted for almost a thousand interactions – 168 of which were in person and 792 online – clearly demonstrating that the meetings work in both face-to-face and online formats.
On a different but no less important note, the Firaescoles programme has been restarted, enabling some 2,500 pupils from 19 schools in Bages to enjoy the programme aimed at younger audiences. This is another example of the relationship between culture and education, which is also reflected in Fira Mediterrània's commitment to sustainability and solidarity, and evidenced by important measures such as the reduction in the use of the most polluting plastics and the professional accreditations made from plantable cardboard.
Returning to the subject of ticket sales, a good level of capacity was filled, with an average of 81% attendance (data from midday Sunday). This figure was achieved despite the lack of time for adjustment, due to the restoration of full capacities only being officially announced 48 hours before the start of the Fira and the fact that this could not be implemented until Friday 15th.
This year's event draws to a close with excitement already building for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Fira Mediterrània at next year’s festival, which will run from 6 to 9 October 2022. The hope is that street activities can be resumed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Saint Ignatius of Loyola's time in the city of Manresa.
Key indicators from the 24th Fira Mediterrània de Manresa
Total professionals (event organisers, press and artists): 1231
Rest of Spain: 139
Companies and shows
Total companies: 88
Performance spaces: 16
Artistic shows: 105
Paying shows: 86
Free shows: 19
Sold out shows: 39
- World premieres: 28
- Catalan premieres: 5
- Spanish premieres: 3
- Work-in-progress projects: 4
- Album launches: 2
- Previews: 1