“We’ve tried to minimise uncertainty for artists and have reinforced activities that don’t require mobility”

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


The situation was unstable at the beginning of 2021. To adapt to any changes brought about by the pandemic, preventive measures were implemented in the area of cultural promotion at the Etxepare Basque Institute. According to Imanol Otaegi, Head of Promotion and Dissemination of Basque Culture, some of the changes have result in a positive evaluation for the year: "We’ve tried to minimise the uncertainty among our creators through specific measures, and have reinforced activities that don’t require mobility, such as translation".

- In 2021, the spread of the pandemic, among other things, forced Basque creators to cancel all performances and activities.

-Yes, and to deal with the situation, we adapted grants for creators. In the calls to promote international mobility, the grants have become ‘automatic’, which means that they were awarded for all the activities carried out outside our borders. We’ve also worked to expedite the release of funds. In addition, the activities that were suspended as a result of Covid-19 were approved for grants and we covered part of the fixed and non-recoverable expenses through this call.

We’ve also opted for proximity, opening windows to Basque culture in Spain, France and Portugal. We’ve bolstered this type of activity and fairs, knowing that they were more feasible in a year with such limited international mobility. As far as more distant activities are concerned, we managed to move the projects already agreed on to a later date. For example, we postponed most of the programme we had planned to do in Quebec to 2022, while keeping our commitments to the creators.

- However, some of the activities have been successfully implemented.

-Activities that do not require artists to travel have been carried out. There has been a Basque and Quebecois film series, and several online activities, such as the seminars at Laval University and the participation of Basque writers in the ‘Quebec en Toutes Lettres’ literary festival. The music and theatre activities have been rescheduled for next year, but we’ve managed to keep them all.

- Progress has also been made on new projects.

-We hope to be able to have a cultural exchange with stakeholders in Flanders by the end of 2022, despite the delay in the Saison Québec-Pays Basque initiative programming. To put the project on track, we organised a planning tour in the Basque Country in which operators from both regions were able to look into possible areas for collaboration. As with both the Scotland and Quebec initiatives, we are working on relationships that enable cultural exchange, the objective being a bilateral cultural programme that includes all artistic disciplines.

-Have the areas of work that do not require mobility been more successful this year?

-In the area of translation, we’ve expanded significantly; in 2020, more projects than ever before applied for translation grants, and this year we were able to support more projects than ever before. 41 Basque works have been translated into other languages ​​during the pandemic.

-What is the outlook for next year?

-We are working in several projects. In keeping with the agreement signed with the Teatro Mayor de Colombia, we’ll have a Basque window that will feature theatre, music and dance: Amaia Elizaran, Sigma Project and Lumi will be there. The programme will also include ´Altsasu´ a show by La Dramática Errante.

On the other hand, thanks to the ZABAL program, the editorial and cultural space consonni of Bilbao will participate in the prestigious international exhibition documenta 15. It will take place in June 2022 in Kassel, Germany. The publishing house will participate as artistic editor of the international exhibition guides, as well as with an artistic project that they have presented in the form of a literary book.

We also want to continue with the music festival that we started last year in Tampere, Finland, and we are working on creating a window to Basque culture with the Mexican region of Jalisco. For the rest, we want to reestablish stabilized appointments over the years. Events such as the Frankfurt and Bologna book fair, the Tanzmesse Dance Fair or the Nantes Film Festival.

Another objective is to stabilise the new grant system. It won’t be an ordinary year. We want to maintain the automatic nature of the aid. At the same time, we’ll work to maintain the performances that have already been agreed on and resume the shows and performances that have not been possible until now. In essence, we’ll continue to strive to minimise the uncertainty faced by cultural creators.

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