• Sarah Goodchild Robb

Focus On Event: Can Serrat International Residency hosts Conference for Xarxaprod December 2017

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

I currently work as an administrator for an international live-work residency called Can Serrat, in the lovely village of El Bruc, approximately 40 km outside of Barcelona.

Logo image courtesy of Can Serrat International Residency

We are a member of the association Xarxa d'espais de producció i creació de Catalunya (Xarxaprod), or the Network of Spaces for Production and Creation of Catalonia. On December 14 and 15 Can Serrat hosted a conference for members of the organization. On the morning of the 14th, the Ajuntament del Bruc, or local town hall, graciously opened up a meeting space for a workshop where representatives from residencies, co-working spaces, and cultural festivals based in Barcelona and the surrounding region of Catalonia met to discuss their respective projects.

The workshop was divided into two sessions: the morning and the afternoon. In the morning, attendees from creative small businesses and associations were invited to split into small groups where they discussed questions related to their spaces' strengths and weakness. Topics ranged from physical spaces, resources, programming, ethos, business models, to limitations, hopes, and goals as they pertained to their individual circumstances. The small group discussions eventually gave way to an open room sharing and feedback session. This workshop provided an opportunity for these small enterprises to network, share ideas, problem solve, and offer support to one another.

While the majority of participants were Catalan, there were several representatives that had immigrated from other countries, now living in the region, such as myself. The staff alone at Can Serrat hails from Catalonia, France, Turkey, the U.S., and Norway. Most people who immigrate to this area focus their energies on learning Spanish (or Castellaño) first, before learning the regional language. Catalan is not simply a dialect of Spanish, as is commonly misunderstood. While people do grow up bi-lingual, the default language particularly in the smaller villages outside of Barcelona is Catalan. Language plays a significant role in the celebration of local identity and culture and the Xarxaprod gathering was no exception. Although participants switched back and forth between Spanish, Catalan, and occasionally English, the open room feedback discussion remained exclusively in Catalan . In fact, when someone from Norway requested to have the meeting in Castellaño, it was decided against as some felt strongly that the conversation should be had in the regional language. This was resolved by volunteer bilingual interpreters who sat close to those of us that needed an on-the-spot Spanish translation to be able to access the larger discussion. The emphasis on this particular point, to "stay in Catalan" felt especially pertinent in light of the recent political upheaval surrounding the Catalan independence movement.

In between the two sessions, attendees broke for lunch and headed to Can Serrat, the masía, or farmhouse, where we have our live-work residency space. There we lunched, catered by La Porca, a restaurant located in the Poble Sec neighborhood in Barcelona. The dining room at Can Serrat is quite large, but even so it was especially cozy with 40+ people sitting around closely spaced tables and chairs. The intimate and homey setting provided another opportunity for fellow creative organizers to connect and share ideas over the delicious meal and wine.

The following day was dedicated to Xarxaprod's annual general assembly.

#CanSerrat #Residencies #LaPorca #Xarxaprod #Barcelona #Catalonia

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