In the recent decades, the economy of Spain enjoyed a sustained growth, significantly based on the building industry for homes as well as for new roads, railways and other large construction projects for private and public facilities. The financial injections from the European Union greatly boosted this kind of development, and the confidence in this general and non-stopping uprising environment helped to promote many other activities often fostered by the national, regional or municipal administrations. The availability of funding for cultural projects and events was favourable everywhere within this global situation, and the organization of festivals for all kinds of music also enjoyed a positive trend. Those optimistic perspectives may have started to noticeably change since 2008.
Rise & Fall of an Unbalanced Economy
Foams are substances made of many small bubbles of uniform size. A few of them can explode, but the remaining bubbles can still sustain the consistency of the foam as a whole. But if instead of that, you just have a big inflating bubble with a few smaller ones around it, when the main one explodes you may have a couple of smaller bubbles left,... but never a foam. In 2008, the ‘bubble’ of the housing industry in Spain’s economy was badly hit and it exploded with expansive consequences.
A financial earthquake with its epicentre in Wall Street was triggered by the collapse of a USA banking system overloaded with derivatives and subprime mortgages. This crisis was rapidly propagated with a tsunami like effect putting also in trouble the financial system in Europe. But it struck the economies of those countries more centred and depending on housing and large construction projects harder and their access to funding. Spain was probably on the top of that list, and the whole network of building companies, manufacturers and distributors for construction materials, equipment, systems, installations, specialised workers, housing agencies etc. etc. rapidly lost all momentum, subsequently affecting other sectors of the national economy. One of the immediate consequences was that Spain’s unemployment rate began to steadily ramp up from a minimum of 8% in year 2007 up to today’s dramatic 23% (and climbing?) in early 2012, which takes the country back to a situation even worse than in the mid 1990s.
Other waves of this late-2000s crisis and recession have extended over the world’s economies with diverse consequences, and they have developed several tense and many times costly situations: in the banking systems, in the stock markets, in the automotive industry, in Iceland, in the European sovereign debt, in the Eurozone, ... With the leadership of ‘the Merkozy’ (Germany and France) strong interventions have been also required mostly on those countries with economies at higher risk, negative national debts,... such as: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy,... In Spain, increasing numbers of local and central governments facing negative financial situations are forced to grab the bull by the horns. In order to avoid more disasters, the raising of taxes is becoming more frequent, but also the cuts on spending in secondary needs is required (not to mention several more than questionable construction projects).
Culture: A Priority for a Troubled Economy?
The unstoppable (or unstopped?) deep crisis in Spain had another drastic effect in 2011. A series of municipal, regional and national elections have demonstrated the extensive frustration within the population, who has punished the Socialist Party (PSOE) with a massive change in the tendencies of their traditional left wing voters. That has shifted the control of most of the local governments, and finally the national one, towards the right-winged People's Party (PP).
Coming back to our specific topic: Folk Music Festivals in Spain in 2012. In the last couple of years, a trend of progressive reduction of public spending in these kinds of events has been perceived. This is something that could be confirmed when talking to different musicians, journalists, organizers, ... or simply when comparing old and new folk music magazines.
The question is: How worse can the situation get now that the conservative Partido Popular is ruling Spain’s national government since December 2011? Shortly after taking over his assignment in early January, the new Ministry of Economy has already announced a severe recession still in 2012. As part of a first set of decisions, the Ministries of Culture and Technology & Innovation have been eliminated, incorporated as smaller organizations inside other government offices. Greater cuts in many kinds of public spending shall be expectable. To what extent will education and culture be affected by the new policies? As a folk music fan, but also as an average citizen and taxpayer, I admit that under today’s bad circumstances, I would rather accept cuts on cultural events than on the public health systems, for example. Maybe this kind of tragic choices can be easily avoided, if politicians cut more on unreasonable expenses that will be unacceptable under the current situation.
But I am afraid that in any case, the support to many kinds of cultural activities can be rapidly reduced, and something that demands the attention from a minority of the population such as traditional and folk music could be easily facing increasingly bad times. Folk music concerts and festivals are at risk of downsizing, but also programs in TV & radio stations, organization of courses, publications, investment in local schools, conservatories, orchestras, ...
Folk Festivals in Spain: Past, Present, ... and Hope
Another pillar of the economy in Spain are all the activities related to tourism, mostly along the Mediterranean coasts, but also inland and along the Atlantic coasts, in a long list of cities, towns and villages with a significant cultural and historical heritage. In many cases, folk music festivals are also an integral part of the cultural offer of these places. Cities with a rich architectural patrimony increase their attractiveness in the summer with important folk festivals, such as: Cáceres (with the WOMAD), Segovia, Sevilla or Zamora. Therefore, instead of pessimistically theorising on what is happening and what can happen, let’s review some of the many events that have taken place in recent years, and that are expected go on in the starting 2012. The list is grouped across Spain’s autonomous communities, and it is not intended to be exhaustive, but just to cover the most relevant festivals.
Andalusia is Spain’s autonomous community in the south of the Iberian peninsula, immediately south of the communities of Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha; west of the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea; east of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean; and the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Spain from Morocco. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva Jaén, Málaga and Seville (the capital of Andalusia).
Festival: CITA FOLK DE JODAR
Festival: PARAPANDA FOLK
Festival: TERRITORIOS SEVILLA
Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces (from north to south): Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Aragon's northern province of Huesca borders France and is positioned in the middle of the Pyrenees mountain chain. Within Spain, the community is flanked by Catalonia on the east, Valencia and Castile-La Mancha to the south, and Castile and León, La Rioja, and Navarre to the west.
Festival: FOLCLÓRICO DE LOS PIRINEOS
Festival: PIRINEOS SUR
Festival: POBORINA FOLK
Festival: CASTILLO DE AINSA
ASTURIES / ASTURIAS
The autonomous community of Asturias is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by Castile and León to the south, by Galicia to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay to the north.
Festival: ’BELTAINE’: AVILES INTERCÉLTICU
Festival: CONCURSO INTERNACIONAL DE MUSICA FOLK ‘CUARTO DE LOS VALLES’
ILLES BALEARS / ISLAS BALEARES
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma de Majorca as its capital city.
Festival: CANÇONS DE LA MEDITERRÁNIA
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of the African mainland. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union. The islands include (from largest to smallest): Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste.
Festival: CANARIAS FOLK FEST
Festival: FOLK CANARIAS
Cantabria is a Spanish historical region and autonomous community with Santander as its capital city. It is bordered on the east by the Basque Autonomous Community (Euzkadi), on the South by Castile and León (provinces of León, Palencia and Burgos), on the west by the Principality of Asturias, and on the north by the Cantabrian sea.
Festival: CANTABRIA INFINITA
Festival: EL CARMUCU
Festival: MAGOSTA FOLK
Festival: FESTIVAL INTERCÉLTICO DE GAITA DE OREJO
Festival: SAUGA FOLK
CASTILLA Y LEÓN
Castile & León is an autonomous community in north-west central Spain, having borders with: Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Aragón, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura, and Portugal to the west. It comprehends the provinces of: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid (the capital) and Zamora.
Festival: CELTA INTERNACIONAL REINO DE LEÓN
Festival: CONCIERTOS DE LA ESTUFA
Festival: DEMANDA FOLK
Festival: ESCENARIO ABIERTO
Festival: FOLK SEGOVIA
Festival: DE INSTRUMENTOS INSOLITOS
Festival: PLANETA FOLK
Festival: PEDRO VAQUERO
Festival: DE VILLALAR
Festival: ZAMORA FOLK
Festival: LAS 10 y UNA NOCHES
CASTILLA – LA MANCHA
Castile-La Mancha is an autonomous community in south-west central Spain, having borders with: Castile and León, Madrid, Aragón, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and Extremadura. It comprehends the provinces of: Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo (the capital).
Festival: FIESTA DE LA CHICHARRA
Festival: FOLK MINAYA
CATALUNYA / CATALUÑA
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeast Spain having borders with: France, Andorra, Aragón, Valencia, and the Mediterranean Sea. It comprehends the provinces of: Barcelona (the capital), Girona, lleida, and Tarragona.
Festival: EL BALL DE LLÉMENA
Festival: BERGUEDÀ FOLK
Festival: INTERNACIONAL DE MUSICA POPULAR TRADICIONAL (FIMPT)
Festival: MERCAT DE MÚSICA VIVA DE VIC
Festival: DE MÚSICA DE CAMBRILS
EUSKADI / PAÍS VASCO
The Basque Country is an autonomous community in northern Spain having borders with: Cantabria, Castilla y León, Navarre, La Rioja, and the Gulf of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean. It comprehends the provinces of: Álava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa.
Festival: BIDASOA FOLK
Festival: FOLKEZ BLAI
Festival: FOLK GETXO BBK
Festival: GALDAMES FOLK
Extremadura is an autonomous community in western Spain having borders with: Portugal, Castilla y León, Castilla – La Mancha, and Andalucía. It comprehends the provinces of: Cáceres and Badajoz.
Festival: FOLK PLASENCIA
Festival: IRISH FLEADH CACERES
Festival: EL MAGUSTO DE CARBAJO
Festival: WOMAD CÁCERES
Galicia is an autonomous community in northwest Spain having borders with: Asturias, Castilla y León, Portugal, and the Atlantic Ocean . It comprehends the provinces of: A Coruña, Lugo, Orense, and Pontevedra.
Festival: CARBALLEIRA DE ZAS
Festival: CELTA DE PARDIÑAS
Festival: FOLK DE GUÍSAMO
Festival: FOLK DE VIGO
Festival: INTERCELTICO DO MORRAZO
Festival: INTERNACIONAL DO MUNDO CELTA DE ORTIGUEIRA
Madrid is an autonomous community in central Spain having borders with Castilla y León and Castilla – La Mancha. The community is also conterminous with the province of Madrid and contains the capital city of Spain, which is also the capital of the community.
Festival: FOLK CHINCHÓN
Festival: FOLK INVIERNO
Festival: MADRID FOLK
Festival: DE MÚSICA TRADICIONAL ARANJUEZ FOLK
Festival: LOS VIERNES DE LA TRADICIÓN
Murcia is an autonomous community in southeast Spain having borders with Andalucía, Valencia and the Mediterranean Sea.
Festival: LA MAR DE MÚSICAS
Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain having borders with: Basque Country, La Rioja, Aragón, and France.
Festival: ENSUEÑOS FOLK
La Rioja is an autonomous community in northern Spain having borders with: Castilla y León, Basque Country, Navarra, and Aragón.
Festival: ALBERITE FOLK
Festival: VALGAÑÓN ES FOLK
The Valencian Community is an autonomous community in eastern Spain having borders with: Castilla – La Mancha, Aragón, Catalonia, Murcia, and the Mediterranean Sea. It comprehends three provinces: Alicante, Castellón and Valencia.
Festival: MÚSICA AL CASTELL
Festival: UNA NIT FOLK
Festival: XABIA FOLK
Festival: 2 MARES
Photo Credits: (1) Mercedes Peón (by Walkin' Tom); (2) Aljibe, (3) Berrogüetto, (4) Etnosur, (5) Pirineos Sur, (6) Anabel Santiago, (7) Folk Canarias, (8) Folkomillas, (9) Hermanos Cubero, (10) Folk Segovia, (11) Vanesa Muela, (12) Xarnege, (13) Galdames Folk, (14) Womad Cáceres, (15) Internacional do Mundo Celta de Ortigueira, (16) Folk Chinchón, (17) La Mar de Músicas, (18) Ana Alcaide (from website/unknown).