Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Teatro Vitoria-Gasteiz: respiratory center

  • In the last decade of the last century, the Kafe Antzokia of Bilbao, contaminated by the essentiality achieved, some people began to work on the creation of a similar space in Vitoria. It's been almost 30 years. The road has been arduous, bittersweet and rough. This year, a few meters away, with the theatre itself built, the last obstacle with administrative and bureaucratic obligations has been known: the project’s driving partnership, Lazarraga, must be EUR 113,000.
Aiala Zaldibar eta Txema Ramírez de la Piscina, Gasteizko antzokiaren aldeko Plataformako kideak. Argazkia: Dos por Dos

At the Errexala Association of the Casco Viejo, located in the venue of the bar Bagare, which for years served as the breathing point of the Basque Country, we met with Aiala Zaldibar and Txema Ramírez de la Piscina, members of the Platform for the Theater of Vitoria. They appear hopeful, enthusiastic and angry. We have gone through the Agrisweets: Euskaltzales committed who have worked for years, the consensus of the political parties (and the Mosses), the locations he has had (including the Auzolana fronton, the source of conflict) or the discussions that have taken place by the name of the space (the then municipal government decided on the name of Izaskun Arrue, not by sufficient consensus). Among them, the potential demonstrated by Oihaneder Euskararen Etxea: 900 activities in seven years, the participation of 67,000 people, an act of three days in Basque.

Comparisons are odious.

Oihaneder Euskararen Etxea settled in the Montehermoso Palace in 2015 and closed its doors in July 2022. By then the works of the Ruiz de Bergara Palace, where the door of the Teatro Vitoria was opened, were completed, not later than Christmas of the same year. But in the partnership between the partnership and the administration there is a key: whether or not to have administrative priority. In the words of Zaldibar and Ramirez de la Piscina, “for the City Hall of Vitoria the Basque country is not the axis, it is lateral, it is decorative”. And in these cases, technicians, licenses, tenders or regulations suppose headaches one after otro.Por example, the participatory process was with the Landxo sports company, located in the same neighborhood, in the
Casco Viejo de Vitoria-Gasteiz: once the consensus between the administration and the agents of the Casco Viejo has been reached, the road is filled with administrative obstacles.

Politicians promised the Lazarraga association that it would open its doors in 2022: Gasteiz Theatre is still closed

Zaldibar and Ramírez de la Piscina offer two other examples. Adversary: The conflict that continues on the occasion of March 3 to turn the church of San Francisco into a memory space. Calderería: The works of the Teatro de Vitoria began at the same time that the Museum of the Victims of Terrorism was founded in the former headquarters of the Bank of Spain, which opened its doors in June 2021, with the participation of the kings and president of Spain.

The members of the platform, as a self-criticism, acknowledge that they have perhaps had too much confidence in the institutions.

As we said before, in the summer of 2022, in two years’ time, the main plays of the Vitoria theater were finished. What happened
then?Politicians promised the Lazarraga association that in 2022 the Teatro Vitoria was launched. Responsibilities were then delegated to the “technicians”, where tenders, licenses, regulations of all kinds appeared… The deadlines began to be extended and could not be opened in October 2022, at Christmas, in the spring of 2023, or in September… And suddenly the Lazarraga association received a municipal letter before the Holy Week of 2024: You have EUR 113,000.

When Oihaneder's were closed to open the doors of the Gasteiz Theatre, the city approved a budget, a programming to carry out, one hospitality activity and another. With the expected revenue and expenditure. But the theater closed all year 2023.

“Lazarraga is a non-profit association,” emphasizes Ramírez de la Piscina to explain that the association does not have the money requested by the city council. The newspaper El Correo has recently published the updated debt: EUR 117,000 plus interest on arrears to the initial amount, which is expected to occur monthly. The City Council says that politicians cannot come in for accounting matters. The members of the Platform for the Teatro de Vitoria claim that “the City Hall has created the problem and the City Hall has to fix it”. Now there is Mayor Maider Etxebarria of the PSE, with the support of the PNV; in the previous eight years nationalist Gorka Uraran, mayor, with the support of the Socialists.

Photo: for two


In this sense, the defense of the Gasteiz Theatre falls to the citizens. Zaldibar and Ramírez de la Piscina have listed their initiatives: they have launched a website for collecting signatures, they are promoting videos of body builders in defense of the theater and they will carry out various mobilizations. On 18 May, he joined the Aldatu Gidoia initiative. They recall that in Vitoria, when broad consensus has been reached between the popular movements and the citizens, some triumphs have been achieved and they hope that this is also the case for the Gasteiz Theatre.

30 years ago, since the project began for the first time, “Vitoria and Álava have changed a lot, despite the fact that some external analysts have now realized, and to adapt to this new Gasteiz the Gasteiz Theatre is essential, not only to be a respiratory center for the Basques, but also to attract the non-Basques,” Zaldibar said.

Gasteiz Theatre in the middle

Last Friday, 17 May, two short resolutions were voted on the Teatro Vitoria:

One, that of the PSE-PNV that integrates the municipal government: “The Plenary of the City of Vitoria-Gasteiz urges the Municipal Government to open the Izaskun Arrue Gasteiz Theatre as soon as possible, working and taking steps”. That is, the two parties that make up the municipal government "urge" the municipal government to keep its promises.

The other was the Platform for the Teatro de Vitoria, with the support of the municipal groups EH Bildu and Elkarrekin: “The problem generated by the City Hall, that it is the City Hall itself that resolves and that, through a solution agreed with the Lazarraga Association, the Izaskun Theatre Arrue Gasteiz is launched as soon as possible.”

Neither one went ahead because the majority did not join. The Gasteiz Theatre Platform tried to reach a joint resolution prior to the municipal corporation and it seemed that all municipal groups could achieve something acceptable. But at the last moment, according to Zaldibar and Ramirez de la Piscina, the PNV-PSE did not adopt a new resolution: “They preferred, just in case, to delete the phrase ‘according to the Lazarraga association’.”

On 17 May the Platform for the Gasteiz Theatre took the floor in the plenary of the City Hall of Vitoria-Gasteiz, while citizenship was concentrated before the city hall. Photo: Exemplar Alavés

In order to know what has happened in the last two years, as well as to anticipate what may happen from now on, the speeches of the representatives of the platform and the parties in plenary are clarifying:

The PSE's attitude was defended by the representative of the Basque Service in Spanish, María Nanclares. He explained that his party started managing the Basque Service a year ago. He points out that the problem has been inherited from the previous legislature. He said they have worked hard for the Izaskun Arrue Theatre to open as soon as possible. He proclaimed that they have made the theatre open, so he invited the Lazarraga association to take the keys. However, he warned that the request of municipal accountants is to return it and that they cannot act against the law. From the platform he was told that among the money requested by the City Hall, taking the keys would be taking an incandescent iron.

Perhaps the most striking word was that of Iñaki Gurtubai of the PNV. In fact, the representative of the Euskera Service in the last legislature responded to something that nobody accused him: he denounced that they had done nothing for the Euskera and the theatre, but asked who put the money for Oihaneder to establish the Euskararen Etxea, who put the money to recover and rehabilitate the Ruiz de Bergara Palace of the Foral Council of Álava.

Who? Citizenship. The creation of the theater was unanimously approved by all municipal groups, so all the vitorians who have voted are “behind”, and it is up to the municipal government to manage that will. But sometimes politicians tend to talk like everybody's money comes out of their pocket.

EH Bildu, by the mouth of Maider Uriarte, and Elkarri, by Garbiñe Ruiz, supported the resolution of the Platform by the Gasteiz Theatre. Together he has collaborated with the government and the opposition EH Bildu, but at the end of the day the two groups agreed that the problem was created by the city council and that Lazarraga cannot accept the problem that it has not generated.

The words of Iñaki García Calvo of the PP were very illustrative. The problem has been generated by the city council, not the Lazarraga association. Why? Because the City Hall knew, or had to know, that the works were not going to end on time and that, on the contrary, the amount of the contract it signed with Lazarraga corresponded to an ongoing project and not to a project that was not open. Now, how do you release the knot? They cannot support solutions that may violate the law. By the way, he argued that the PP has always defended that the Basque country needs a space.

It seems that negotiations are going to open in the coming days or weeks

So what can happen?

The PSE and the PNV said in the plenary that there are formulas, such as split payment, for the Lazarraga society to deal with the debt and propose it. And, on the other hand, if it were shown that part of that debt corresponds to errors in the management of the municipal government, they would assume it.

It seems that negotiations will be opened on these bases, because an association that is indebted to the administration cannot be renewed the contract, says the PP, the PNV and the PSE. We must now see to what extent the PNV-PSE is prepared to accept its mistakes and what it means in money.

And there's one last key: In order to give a new impetus to Euskera in such a Basque and changed city since the 1990s (in which, among other things, about 100 languages are spoken, as opposed to 30 years ago), it is essential that the Gasteiz Theatre be perceived by all the citizens, and that it emerges as soon as possible from the strangulation existing according to the Lazarraga association. Otherwise, it will be born with an innate problem, in disagreement with who and with those who have fueled and driven the most.

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