23 May 2008

Málaga, capital of culture?

As most people in Málaga probably have noticed, there is a large publicitary campaign to have Málaga named European Capital of Culture in 2016.

I strongly oppose that candidacy.

Not that Málaga is not a nice place. I love living in this city, but culture is not the first thing you think of when speaking about in Málaga. What important museums do we have? Important monuments? What about music? And arts? Where is the live scene of young artists performing their arts?

The truth is that Málaga has a very limited cultural offer compared to other Spanish cities. If you compare to e.g. Granada, Córdoba, Madrid, Bilbao, Sevilla, San Sebastián, Valencia, Barcelona, etc, is Málaga worth the title as Capital of Culture?

In my opinion the current political and cultural leaders in Málaga are bad for culture. A couple of examples from the musical scene (the one closest to my heart):

Malaga used to have a wonderful music festival called Etnimalaga. It was celebrated over a summer weekend on the beach with ethnical music from all over the world. It used to be crowded. Suddenly, a couple of years ago, the festival was abandoned.

The jazz scene, while not big, has been improving the last few years. A yearly jazz festival has attracted names such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin and more. It has been attended partly by the local population and partly by North-Europeans coming in from the nearby costal cities. This year they are celebrating another festival (Terral) with great artists like Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed and more. The problem though, is that prices has more than doubled compared to what has been normal. To get a decent ticket for Krall or Reed, you need to pay 100 €. That's about 10 % of the mean monthly net salary in Málaga, or about what 2-3 times what a 3 course dinner with wine might cost you in a decent restaurant. I have a feeling that this year, Herbie will be able to speak all he wants in English; since the audience will consist of 60 year old Englishmen coming in from Marbella.

Maybe Málaga's culture was at a high level when the Arabs still ruled the area. There is no doubt that Pablo Picasso was one of the most important painters of the previous decade. And I don't doubt that there are a lot of Malagueños (including Moroccans, Finnish and Senegalese) that make wonderful music or paintings or whatever.

But don't visit Málaga for it's culture. Not in 2008, and I have no reason to believe that things will be different in 2016.

PS. I do recommend the concert with the American singer Madeleine Peyroux, the 8th of July in Teatro Cervantes (40 € for good tickets). Hear her version of "Dance me to the end of love" below. [REMOVED]