Interview with Irene Larraza I/II: 2022 achievements, Saison Québec - Pays Basque and professional meetings
Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.
The Etxepare Basque Institute’s activities in 2022 returned to normal with a diverse and fruitful year. This is how Director Irene Larraza assesses 2022. She is glad to have been able to restore the character of the Institute, whose main objective is to internationalise Basque culture, to have built on the relationships already created and to create new ones.
Back to mobility, inaugurating new university chairs, giving out awards, and organising and participating in conferences, international Basque language accreditation tests, cultural exchange programmes, professional meetings, etc. Below is a review the activities carried out in 2022.
- The Etxepare Basque Institute has added three new university chairs to the network in 2022, named after Alan R. King, Frank Bidart and Elbira Zipitria.
- Yes, and although the three programmes have different origins, the result is the same: to unite the Basque community and academia. With the Alan R. King Chair in Wales, we’ve filled the gap in the field of sociolinguistics. At California State University, Bakersfield, creative initiatives can be developed through the Frank Bidart Chair, where the selected expert or creator will spend a month to conduct research or create a project at the Institute of Basque Studies. Our work in Quebec has directly resulted in the Elbira Zipitria Chair, which will continue the initiative from previous years.
- One of the highlights of the year was the launch of the Saison Québec–Pays Basque cultural exchange programme in Montreal.
- The project clearly represents the Institute’s performance in recent years. The Saison Québec-Pays Basque project was initially planned for 2020 but due to the pandemic, was postponed until 2021-2022. We started in 2021, partly online, and this year we were finally able to go back to in-person events.
The programme served to catalyse collaboration between Quebec and cultural operators in the Basque Country, and to promote exchange between artists, creators and cultural industries. It also helped to strengthen co-operation between the two nations, producing very enriching results. We brought creators from all disciplines to Quebec, had achievements in the academic field, and we have set our sights on a couple of projects that will continue. Above all, the project has helped us to get to know each other better and to interact with the stakeholders there. The outcome is therefore positive.
- To what extent has this been influenced by the return to in-person work?
- It’s been crucial for the services managed by Etxepare. Without a doubt, nothing can substitute face-to-face interaction, especially while showcasing our artists´ work abroad. That’s why we’ve continued to organise professional gatherings for Flemish and Basque creators to share knowledge.
To make ourselves better known, promote cultural exchange and create cultural showcases, Flemish artists from the performing arts, film and video, literature, music, art and language visited Vitoria-Gasteiz, San Sebastian and Bilbao. The idea is to do the same in 2023, but in Flanders.
With a view to encourage cultural exchange between Japan and the Basque Country, and to promote bilateral creation and dissemination, exchange experiences and knowledge, and to create cultural showcases, we have organised professional meetings next year following the same model.
We think that closer, more personal touch is required to explain who we are so that actual dialogue can happen.
- So, this model of professional meetings will continue?
- Yes. We see this as the best way to build relationships with the sectors. And we see Basque creators and stakeholders as a sector. We should add that we do not work in the context of markets, but rather relationships. Our job is to make ourselves known. After that, the artists will present their creations to one another.