Writing the introduction to a publication describing a two-year project is a challenge. Over these two years, the seven members of The Spur, led by Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona, have worked to develop a European cooperative network dedicated to contemporary creation, especially in visual art. It involves seven organizations from four countries that have joined forces to promote the transnational movement of creators and improve their professional abilities, as well as to pursue co-management processes in a framework based on cooperation and internationalisation. This is a joint effort in which each centre has contributed its strong suits —based on its own characteristics and experiences— to a set of common objectives. The Spur is an innovative, ambitious project, important for the city of Girona but organised on a European scale. The project has included several different initiatives: the programme of resident artists from different participating cities, the creation of prospective studies to convert abandoned urban spaces into creative spaces, four international seminars and the publication of two digital publications-catalogues, as well as this print catalogue.
On a more concrete level, The Spur has allowed 22 artists to participate in international residencies. These artistic residencies have been at the core of the project, and the artists have personified one of its most important goals. The artists were selected through public contests, a measure of transparency designed to guarantee equal opportunities, the most appropriate financial conditions and the selection of the highest-quality projects in keeping with the ideas behind The Spur. The 22 creators selected, all of them visual artists, employ a broad range of artistic practices, but they all share a common contemporary framework. They also come from a number of different countries, such as Hungary, Austria or Estonia. They have all had the opportunity to work on their artistic proposals in one of our participating cities and centres: Centre d’Art Le LAIT (Albi, France), Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma (Mallorca), Bureau des Arts et Territoires (Montpelier, France), Fondazione per l’Arte (Rome, Italy) and Sputnik Oz Art Association (Bratislava, Slovakia), in addition to Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona. It should be said that the seventh member of this unit is the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion, whose special role involved the management and support for the project as a cooperative entity combining different regions. During these residencies, each artist –or group of artists– had a mentor from the town where they stayed. The role of these professionals, each with a long career and broad experience, was not only to guide the artists, but also to promote dialogue in order to enrich their creative processes and the resulting pieces. The Spur’s artistic residencies focused on artistic research, which can take many forms, but which does not necessarily result in a specific piece. In keeping with this spirit, the proposals of different artists ended up taking different shapes: actions, participative events or public presentations, to name a few.
Thanks to Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani, here in Girona we were lucky enough to receive some of these resident artists. The Centre began its residency programme in 2014, and since then it has welcomed a number of artists, curators and other cultural agents. It now continues its task of promoting artistic creation in our city with an international spirit. The resident artists from The Spur had the opportunity to discover and explore our city, using it as a laboratory for ideas and incorporating it into their projects in one way or another. They established synergies with other cultural agents and with the city in general by intervening in Bòlit’s exhibition spaces, offering workshops, talks or open seminars, for example.
They all helped to enrich the city, but we, too, have done our part: they have both influenced and been influenced. We should not forget that welcoming always means opening up to the presence of the other, exposing ourselves to what their point of view can reveal about us and, in this case, our surroundings. It is about seeing through another’s eyes or, in the words of Xavier Antich, ‘participating in an exchange based on openness to the other’. With their work, the artists have allowed us to see what often passes unnoticed, or have found another way of expressing what was once invisible. This new vision also involves risks: it can reveal shortcomings, but being brave enough to acknowledge them means that, with time and effort, we can overcome them. Ultimately, it is a mutual learning process that benefits all citizens. We at the Girona City Council would like our city to continue to attract members of the cultural and creative sector, but we also want it to become a platform creators can use to launch their careers and develop their activity abroad. This means internationalising local art and welcoming international art. Over these years, Bòlit Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona has given support to a large number of local artists, and has transported visual art from our city to different points across Europe. It has done so with the understanding that the mobility of these professionals is desirable not only for the development of their careers, but also for Girona and its image abroad. With The Spur project, Girona also had the opportunity to house a seminar, designed as a space for sharing knowledge with an impact on the sector.
We are working towards an open city that takes care of what it has, but does not fear circulation and mobility. In addition, it sees this relationship and collaboration with other regions, entities and organizations as something necessary within the context of an increasingly connected world, where the local and the global mix and create hybrids. We at the City Council continue to invest in creativity as one of our city’s main values, because we see it as a motor for economic development with high added value, and also because it can help to improve our citizens’ quality of life. It is important to remember that the cultural and creative industries represent about 4.5 % of the GDP of the UE, and 4% of occupation (some 8 million jobs). Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona has led this initiative, and has invested a great deal of energy in guaranteeing its success. From the very beginning, however, our goal has been to overcome the strict framework of this project and to consider the fruits and the legacy of The Spur. So, together with the other participants, Bòlit would like to transmit the knowledge shared in this process to the cultural and artistic sector. The work done so far has taken the form of a series of management tools that are useful on a transnational, European scale. These tools are documents on things like model contracts, protocols and best practices. They constitute a body of resources that can help in the development of future creative projects, as well as in professionalising the sector. The objective is to generate intellectual capital that benefits both the sector and citizens. This set of resources is unique here in our region, and we are sure it will become an essential tool for future creative projects. Once again, Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona has shown its long-term commitment to our city’s cultural and artistic sector.
Being able to participate in a European project on this scale is an opportunity for a centre like Bòlit, but also for a city like Girona, which continues to serve as a point of reference in culture and art on a European scale. Our contemporary art centre continues to lead the way for culture in Girona, in a project with international repercussions. Bòlit, Centre d’Art Contemporani. Girona has a clear objective, and so does the city council: we believe in culture as a tool for personal, social and economic growth, capable of making our city a point of reference in innovation, new languages and modernity.
What you hold in your hands is a sample of the results of The Spur. This publication seeks to serve as a testimony of the steps taken so far and to highlight the work done these last two years.
Mayor of Girona