the spur magazine

#01 espais i xarxes creatives

Contemporary art, a spur for the recuperation of creative spaces in cities

Roca Umbert Fàbrica de les Arts (Granollers, Barcelona)

Ester Prat

Granollers is a medium-sized town with a population of 60,000 forming part of Barcelona metropolitan area, which has been hit by the major economic crisis which has particularly affected the southern European countries.

There are various cultural facilities in the city (theatres, libraries, archives, culture centres…) but the most prominent, through its uniqueness and growth and outreach, is the Roca Umbert Fàbrica de les Arts.

This is a municipal cultural project started in 2002 in a former textile factory. The project involved converting part of the former factory (21,000 m2) into a space for creation, in cooperation with the emerging economic structures.

At present the restored sheds represent almost 70% of its 21,000 m2 and the following facilities are running there: Library, CUB (music rehearsal rooms) Espai d’Arts (workshops for artists and contemporary art exhibition room), La Troca (popular and traditional culture centre), Audiovisual Centre, Sala NauB1 (centre for music creation and dissemination), La Tèrmica (centre for interpretation of the industrial past) and production workshops.

Roca Umbert was set up at a time of extensive economic support by the country’s institutions. This initial funding, which enabled a great thrust forward for the project over the years from 2005- 2008, later dropped due to the major global economic crisis.

Strategic goals (2016-2020)

Focus the project
The Roca Umbert project has grown in an often-disordered way over this period, perhaps due to its complexity.
We need to reinforce the project’s connection with wider cultural life to be able to take off successfully.

High civic participation
In recent years around 1,000 activities, have been carried out at the ensemble of the different facilities of Roca Umbert. What is more, the daily footfall in our cultural facilities has generated a total number of 364.323 uses in 2016.

International work has begun to be a priority since 2015, when he created the first CCI linked project that was presented to Interreg Med, but not selected.

From there we worked to create a network and host other European projects linked to programs such as Grand Central Europe or Creative Europe.

Great future challenges related to CCI

The project is now facing three main challenges:
One of these is to make culture and cultural and creative industries real engines of economic development. In this respect, the facility has become a tool for generating jobs, attracting talent and projecting the image of the City and its artists. Another aspect involves seeking a new governance model, based on arrangements with different actors and seeking legal structures intended to produce greater efficiency in terms of the involvement of public authorities, associations and bodies. Thirdly, the integration of this area in the City to contribute to creating a culture district around it.

Ester Prat

Ester Prats is a Cultural Curator and technician for the Roca Umbert Fàbrica de les Arts in Granollers since 2004. She is also a co-director and professor in the Actual Art master’s degree in the Live Long Learning Institute (IL3 – Universitat de Barcelona) since 2008. She has conceptualised cultural projects for several public and private institutions. From 2010 to 2013 she was a member of the A*DESK association and is currently a member in the Study Centre in Granollers.