Portugal and Spain, a growing cultural alliance

The program Culture Portugal 2021, which faces its final stretch, is not only characterized by the breadth of disciplines it encompasses, but also by the variety of cities where it is held. “We do not want our activities to be limited to Madrid and Barcelona”, explains the ambassador João Mira-Gomes, which has summoned several cultural journalists from the capital (among them, to Vozpópuli). We are in the former palace of the Dukes of Híjar, headquarters of the Portuguese embassy in the capital. The offer promoted and promoted from here is substantial: fado festival, dance shows, theater, literature, youth music …

“We are often told that Portuguese culture is not known in Spain, so we are trying to do more to spread it, both with the media and with the institutions with which we can partner. Actually, we want to have more Portuguese culture in Spain and more Spanish culture in Portugal. We are in a fantastic moment of bilateral relations, so we have to take advantage of it, and we also have a bit of European funding ”, he shares Mira-Gomes.

During the meeting, the importance of culture as an engine of tourism is underlined. In the last ten there has been a exponential growth of Spanish interest in the neighboring country, fruit of the economic crisis that made it more attractive to visit nearby and cheap countries. An example: Portuguese students in Spain have gone from 8,000 in 2010 to 53,000 in 2020 in official language schools. “We Portuguese normally learn your language without studying it, for example I was lazy but I speak it practically,” the ambassador tells us.

Portugual, from Pessoa to Saramago

A defining moment was the exhibition on Fernando Pessoa at the Reina Sofía in 2018, titled All art is a form of literature. There is a 2019 study, presented then by the Portuguese Minister of Economy, which analyzed the influence of tourism on culture. There it was revealed that Spain ranked second in visits, with seven million displaced tourists, only below Great Britain. Basically, the BAV (Brand asset valuation), that is, the perception of the Portugal brand, which It stopped being the country of towels and tablecloths to move to a different level. We no longer just go to the municipalities near the border, but we go to the coast. It is no longer related to “cheap”, but to “quality”.

Next year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of José Saramago, the only national Nobel laureate

“What Spanish is looking for in Portugal, right now, is above all culture,” he says. Patricia Severino, Minister of Culture. He cites the Romanesque route, the main museums and also the festivals, from fados to electronic artists. “Too attracts any activity with the Unesco seal”, He highlights. Next year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Jose Saramago, the only national Nobel Prize winner, who had a very special connection with Spain. There will also be a tribute to the 450th anniversary of Os Lusíadas, a key work of Portuguese literature.

On the occasion of the Saramago year, the Alfaguara publishing house carries out the reissue of the entire Saramago Library with the novelty of the redesign of all covers carried out by Manuel Estrada, and, as advanced Pilar Reyes, editorial director, the entire work will be reissued in three stages (January, March and June 2022). Another of the new objectives of Cultura Portugal is the implementation of the I Literary Residence Grant in Madrid, a project that was unveiled at the last Book Fair, and for which the Portuguese Embassy in Spain and the Camões Institute will offer a Portuguese author a stay in the Spanish capital with which they will have the opportunity to work in a new literary project.

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Portugal and Spain, a growing cultural alliance