«We need to stop thinking that culture is superfluous and convince ourselves that it nurtures us instead »
With these words, Carmen Tierz, a cultural journalist, and Director of the Entreactos magazine, talked about the importance of promoting culture among a wide range of audiences. This took place at the II #MésCulturaUIC Event: New audiences in the theatre, in music and in cinemas, organised jointly by the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Communication Sciences at UIC Barcelona.
There were three different round tables - on theatre, cinema and music – at which public figures from the cultural world talked about the situation of audiences at a time in which the critical economic situation and new technologies have made it increasingly difficult to attract them.
Sergi Pérez, a film director and winner of the Gaudí Award for Best Film 2016, and the voice-over actress Merced Montalà, were both speakers at the first round table on cinema, which was moderated by Laura Pousa, a Professor from the Faculty of Communication Sciences. Montalà also participated in the second round table on theatre, accompanied by the journalist Carme Tierz and moderated by a Professor from the Master’s in Cultural Management in our university, Cristina Calvet, as well as a lawyer from the Catalan Association of Professional Actors and Directors. Finally, at the third round table on music, it was the turn of Félix Buget, owner of the record company Blanco y Negro Music, and Antònia Folguera, Head of Communication at Sónar+D, Ovalsound, Reactable and Disbood. This final session was moderated by Isabel Villanueva, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences.
Due to the variety of the speakers, the issues that came up were also quite disparate and sometimes even controversial or expressed as a complaint, as stated by Montalà, particularly talking about the television share: “It has caused us a lot of harm, often we put all of our effort into launching a programme, and then shut it down after two weeks because it does not have enough of a share, when in reality, the new audience of consumers are young people between the ages of 20 and 30, who hardly watch TV, but instead use the internet a lot more. This is not taken into account enough”. At the same time, the film director also stated that “we have to educate our gaze: if we are not taught how to watch, we will not know how to do it”.
One of the largest problems in this sector is the fact there are few financial resources for culture and, often, there is a lack of consideration for artists. “It’s not about ego - said Merced Montalà -, but about the fact our profession is a service. I’ve worked on TV series, and we cannot forget that they provide company to many people who live alone, or who are living in a hospital or a retirement home”.
Along the same lines, and underlining the increase in VAT from 8% to 21%, Carme Tierz aimed to try to demonstrate culture “as something that nurtures us, that is not superfluous”. Montalà said “We need to have a patronage law that would facilitate access to culture and resolve a great many issues”.
At the same time, all of the speakers recognised the change that the market has undergone in recent years. “Technology has brought a lot of benefits to audiences and music creators - said Folguera - but on the other hand, people no longer place a financial value on music and often the medium (iPods or whatever) is valued more than the content”. In fact, continued Buget, “today, any artistic creation which is subject to digitalisation means the artist is quickly no longer the owner of their own work”. “There should be -said the Blanco y Negro representative- regulations that truly protect those who create music”.
The event, which lasted for most of the afternoon, ended with a few words from the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences, Isabel Villanueva. As a Professor of Applied Music, she referred to the importance of “having culture, but a rich culture”. And finally she said “We need to aim to not only simply gain audiences, but also gain audiences that are appreciative and loyal”.