Madrid has changed a lot since I moved here almost five years ago. One of the things I really missed upon arrival were the public art spaces where people could go and perform or show their work. Spain (and Madrid) has world-class art museums but they are all ‘part of the system’ and state-sponsored. There was no where for up-and-coming artists to go and certainly no large ad-hoc cultural events. The closest thing were small shows in bars.
That’s why after coming back from my year in London I was amazed to see not one, but two self-administed spaces! One is the Tabacalera in the Glorieta de Embajadores and the other is the Campo de Cebada in La Latina. However, these spaces are in grave risk of being turned into government or commercial institutions that would destroy what has been created.
The Tabacalera is an old cigarette factory that has been converted into a sort of art/performance hippy commune community center that offers free daily workshops on a variety of topics. On the weekend, the place bustles with performances and music. The Tabacalera has taken off with the local African immigrant population as a place to find support . The building is located in Lavapies which is an immigrant neighborhood in the center of Madrid. Unfortunately, the building is scheduled to be converted into a national center for cinema in the near future.
The Campo de Cebada began life as an abandoned lot in the heart of La Latina next to the market. The neighborhood took it over to form a place for musical performances and movie viewings. A weekly calendar of events are published on its website. As with the Tabacolera, the Campo’s future is far from certain. The city has plans to sell the space to a commercial venture.
It’s good to see Madrileños embracing and supporting local culture with spaces such as these. Hopefully as things continue and more locals begin to understand the importance of these institutions, we will see even more in the other areas of Madrid and these pioneers will be saved.
Do you know of any other spaces? Let us know!