Fira Mediterrània brings its 21st year to a close, defined by artistic exploration and rituals
Fira Mediterrània has become an authentic laboratory for developing traditional culture through ground breaking initiatives and its hosting of five artist residencies in Manresa
Over four days, 29 productions were premièred, including 15 world premières
The Fira Business Area consolidates an operational model that attracts professionals and ensures high turnout throughout
International reach, the professional conference and speed business meetings are the trade fair’s main strengths
David Ibáñez bids farewell to Fira Mediterrània after seven years as its artistic director
Manresa, Sunday 8 October. This evening, Fira Mediterrània Manresa brings its 21st year to a close. The event began last Thursday. For another year, Manresa, the capital city of the Bages region, has been transformed into an apex of traditional culture, folk and world music, with a four-day event featuring some 300 activities. This year, Fira Mediterrània has explored the relationship between traditional culture, spirituality and community, and how this relationship can inspire contemporary performing arts.
1 ARTISTIC PROGRAMME
Erritu (ritual), by the Basque company Kukai Dantza, with Sharon Fridman, and a guest contribution by Orfeó Manresà, was one of Fira Mediterrània’s top acts. Based on the various stages of human existence, the production was adapted for the Basque company to be performed at Fira’s flagship venue in Manresa, La Seu - the Basilica of Santa Maria. The impacting majesty of the venue and stage lighting enhanced the spectacular choreography, combining dancing, choir music and symbolism. The outcome was a collective experience in an unbeatable heritage-rich location, which produced a mesmerising effect on everyone there.
Fira Mediterrània highlights exploration
In its 21st year, Fira Manresa has established itself as a strong driver of artistic creativity and sponsorship. This year, five artist residencies were held, reflecting Fira Mediterrània’s commitment to exploration and championing it as a laboratory for developing cutting edge, traditional culture, via sponsorship, in the form of co-productions. The five productions to be written and rehearsed in Manresa, Artés and Barcelona in the run-up to Fira Mediterrània were: El moviment de les coses que prenen temps, (The Movement of Things that Take Time), with the prestigious Korean dancer Ji Hye Chung, and a multi-talented group of artists; Juan Carlos Lérida and his Màquinas Sagradas (Sacred Machines); Megacobla by Za; the trapeze artist Júlia Farrero, and Societat Doctor Alonso, with the world première Estudi per a pandereta (Study for Tambourine). Once again, they demonstrate a driving focus of Fira: promoting contemporary creativity based on traditional culture.
With this premise and in the context of music, Fira Mediterrània included productions that promote a connection between contemporary improvisation and traditional music. Cases in point are: the joint project of the Andalusian pianist and acclaimed flamenco jazz musician Chano Domínguez and the renowned Sardinian trumpet player Paolo Fresu; the Occitan polyphonic male voice choir Vox Bigerri with the New York drummer Jim Black; and the Polish violinist Janusz Prusinowski with the Catalan gralla player Manu Sabaté.
Premières: Fira Mediterrània showcases début productions
Promoting risk taking and staging premières of new artistic projects are also a hallmark of Fira Mediterrània. This year, début productions were staged at Fira Mediterrània by Arnau Tordera, leader of Obeses, and the tenor Magí Canyelles with Les cançons seran sempre nostres (The Songs will Always be Ours), and Sessions ferotges (Fierce Sessions) by the Valencian artist Feliu Ventura. Other premières at Fira were: (d)ones, a new project by Les Anxovetes, a music phenomenon, renowned for their fresh and female take on the world of “Havaneres” - Catalan sea shanties; Nada nuevo bajo el sol (Nothing New Beneath the Sun), by the guitar player Pau Figueres, and Si son flors, floriran (If they're Flowers they will Bloom), by Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials, among others. National and international acts such as Jordi Savall & Carlos Núñez, Carles Dénia, the Anglo Palestinians 47soul, the Taureg guitar player Bombino and the Galician group Uxía also chose Fira Mediterrània to perform their latest productions.
Traditional culture, community and participation
Participatory traditional culture, featuring folk groups from around the world, took on a significant role in Fira Mediterrània’s programme. They included: four human tower groups that performed during a day devoted to human towers; and the Armats de Manresa, in collaboration with the guest piano player Manel Camp, who premièred Baixada de les Escales de la Seu (Descent of the Steps at La Seu Basilica). The fire group Xàldiga from Manresa played a special role in Fira Mediterrània through their organising of a large gathering of Catalan folkloric dragons (folkloric figures at Catalan fire events) and their participation in several stages of Ada Vilaró’s PAS per la PAU (Walk for Peace), in which the artist from Prats de Lluçanès crossed the Bages region on foot during a six-day journey.
In a similar vein, the 21st Fira Mediterrània devoted Focus this year to the Balearic Islands and showcased a representative selection of outstanding traditional culture from Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. One of the main performances took place on Sunday with Aires de Menorca, a dressage display, which is a much-loved tradition and emblematic feature of the island's traditional cultural heritage. The Focus programme was completed by an assortment of fire and music groups from the Balearic Islands, which included: the Balearic Islands Association of Demons, Devils and Fire Beasts; the Country Dance Ensemble Es Broll and the Xeremiers de Mallorca band, as well as others.
2 INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Over the years, the Fira Business Area in Manresa Technical Museum has become a central networking and business hub. This year was no exception. An extensive number of professional activities were hosted there from start to finish, based on a seamless scheduling of activities. The professional hub offered a programme to attract professionals and generate constant high-quality activity. All of these aspects point to the fact that this year has seen greater professional activity take place than usual, despite similar numbers of professionals registered in comparison with previous years.
This year, 1106 professionals from 604 organisations registered to attend Fira Mediterrània, including 166 international registrations. Activities conducted in the Fira Business Area were well received by industry professionals: 197 people registered for the professional conference and 456 attended speed business meetings, a popular initiative that grows in number every year. Coupled with the project presentations, it has been a central reason for increased professional activity, which this year topped 110 activities. These activities included: participation by city council experts in the speed business meetings; the professional conference, devoted this year to legal aspects of cultural management (co-operatives, copyright and insurance); and the 5th Wine & Fest Forum, which outlined tools that festival organisers can use to improve environmental sustainability. Another highlight of Fira Mediterrània was an area of the professional conference dedicated to traditional culture, featuring an opening speech by the exiled Minister of Culture, Lluís Puig. There was a total of 45 stands in the Fira Business Area, filling its entire capacity.
This year, the atmosphere and turnout by local residents in the streets and at performance venues were noteworthy, especially on Saturday when public attendance was at its highest. For paid shows, tickets sales reached 77%. A total of 9657 tickets were sold to professionals and the general public, and tickets sold out completely for 12 performances. Of 161 artistic performances, 34% were paid entry and 66% were free.
Fira Mediterrània's connections with Manresa include the city's business community, thanks to the Club Mecenes, an organisation launched in 2015 to promote sponsorship, in which 12 companies from the region currently participate. It is also important to note the committed involvement of various cultural agents in Manresa, such as the Kursaal Theatre, el Galliner, Cases de la Música, d’Arrel, and more. At the same time, Fira is an economic driver for Manresa and the Bages region, as demonstrated by several studies on the event's economic impact. Once again, throughout Fira, Manresa and its surrounding areas recorded high numbers of hotel bookings.
On a more sombre note, it is with regret that the circus show Gritando sin hacer mucho ruido (Shouting Without Making Much Noise) by the company Yifan was cancelled due to a fall by the artist Ignacio Herrero.
4 DAVID IBÁÑEZ BIDS FAREWELL TO FIRA MDEITERRÀNIA AFTER SEVEN YEARS AS ITS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
After seven years, David Ibáñez ends his reign this year as artistic director of Fira Mediterrània. In 2012, he took the helm as Fira’s director, and since that time he has devoted his energies to three distinct areas: Promoting international reach through annual plans of action and arrangements with other organisations and international professionals (European projects, exchanges, etcetera), especially where music is concerned; focusing on the avant-garde through promoting co-productions and performing arts laboratories, where contemporary creativity takes traditional culture as its inspiration; and promoting participation by opening up Fira Mediterrània’s programme to include community involvement and participation by traditional culture groups that uphold and enrich Catalan intangible cultural heritage on an everyday basis. He has been involved in linking artistic activity with professional activity to generate synergies that connect Fira Mediterrània with national and international cultural agents. Ultimately, his goal has been to transform Fira Mediterrània into a powerful showcase of artistic projects that promote Catalan culture, and to use Fira as a tool that works on behalf of that culture. This press release contains an attached report as an example of the afore-mentioned, which summarises the national and international course of a series of musical projects, performing arts and heritage that Fira Mediterrània has promoted in recent years. All of the above attests to the fact that Fira Mediterrània is currently the benchmark event of traditional and folk culture in the 21st century.
Statistics of the 21st Fira Mediterrània
Total number of professionals (booking agents, press and artists):
Rest of Spain: 133
Total number of registered organisations: 604
Companies and performances:
Total number of companies: 116
Companies from Catalonia: 56.90%
Companies from the rest of Spain: 18.10%
International Companies 25%
Artist residencies 5
- World premières: 15
- Premières in Catalonia: 6
- Premières in Spain 4
- Projects in process: 4
Performance venues: 18
Artistic performances: 161
Paid shows: 34,16%
Free shows: 65,84%
Sold-out shows: 12
Number of people registered at the professional conference: 197
Number of people registered at the meeting to promote bookings: 150
Project presentations: 39
Speed business meetings: 456
Stands at the Fira Business Area 45
Stalls at Fira Passeig: 97 (including food trucks and stalls in Plaça Sant Domènec)
Schools involved in FiraEscoles: 20
Total number of activities: 301
- Artistic performances: 161
- Professional activities: 110
- +diterrània: 30
Fira Mediterrània Manresa is sponsored by the Catalan Government’s Ministry of Culture, Manresa City Council and the Barcelona Provincial Council. It receives joint institutional sponsorship from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, Spanish Cultural Action, the Balearic Islands Government’s General Directorate of Culture, the Etxepare Basque Institute and the Ramon Llull Institute.