“Young people have a lot to offer, and Etopia can create spaces for them”

09.01.2020 by Isabel Cebrián

Keywords: Etopia Center for Art and Technology, interview, recap, U R ART

As part of U R ART on the 21st of September 2019, the event held by the museums and art centers that make up the smARTplaces collective, Etopia organized the Etopia Urban Fest, an afternoon of concerts and creative activities hosted by the younger generation. Here’s a conversation with the organisers, Nieves Arilla, María Tosat, Ana Urbina and Santiago Latorre, who reflect on the event and what they have learnt.

How significant was the organisational team for U R ART in terms of organisation and collaborations?

Nieves: It was a big challenge, but it’s important that there are events where you can interact with other people who work in the same field as you, even if you don’t have anything else in common.

María: It’s allowed us to test internal dynamics that we hadn’t tried out before; something which could be extrapolated to other projects at the center, such as the open day.

Ana: It was a good demonstration of the massive potential for collaboration that exists in uniting projects and spaces that have, so far, operated in isolation. It also helps to group young audiences from different spaces and programs to get more people interested.

María: It was the first time that we had a project which got the participants involved in the organisation of the event, and we’ve been really satisfied by the level of implication and the bond between the users and the centre itself.

Santiago: Especially in the sound laboratory, we had some young local artists get in touch and start working with some other international artists that are doing residencies at Etopia as part of the FUGA programme.

What have you learned?

Santiago: In Zaragoza, there is a very exciting urban music scene, with very young, quality artists with a certain level of organisation. And a loyal following.

Nieves: Young people have a lot to offer and you can and should count on them for this type of event. The participation, and the standard of the music, were incredible.

María: Internally, there’s need to have a person managing the events that come from collaborations between different institutions. We need someone who can start working on the projects with a global vision that includes the evaluation of the event.

Ana: Doing so is just a matter of will, coordination, communication and internal organization. It’s been fantastic to see the commitment and willingness of all parties involved.

What would you like to repeat in the future?

Nieves: We’d like to do the concert every year, so it becomes one of the big festivals in our city. It serves to exhibit the work of the young people who come through the laboratory.

Santiago: Do the concerts again, but on a more normal schedule for this type of event, and for the bars.

María: In addition to working with such young audiences, we’d like to strengthen the internal side of things with a joint activity, and use the outdoor space at Etopia, when the weather is good. And involve the users of the center in a joint activity.

Ana: While you can improve things or rework certain parts of the event, I think what ultimately worked was to create a space to share processes, results and concerns. And create a space to meet and get to know other programs and services at the center.

What do you think Etopia offers to younger audiences, and how can you continue working to be more open to them in the future?

Ana: Etopia offers space to investigate and deepen your ideas and projects, both individually and collectively. There’s also a very good team of professionals. Etopia can also help them to learn about other cultural initiatives, programs and activities that can help them expand and enrich their horizons and creative sensibilities from other approaches, media, or focuses.

María: Etopia can be very attractive for that age group, however the activities are usually focused on more adult audiences. Some reflection and effort should be made to devise a project aimed at younger audiences through the Cesar laboratories at Etopia, not only from the maker and technology world, but also from the creative side of things. We do not know what the interests of adolescent boys and girls are, so I believe that an audience development project aimed at this age group should be carried out.

Santiago: From the point of view of the sound laboratory, Etopia offers a space to develop innovative musical proposals that are not found in other parts of the city. I think that we must consolidate the public that approached Etopia because they were interested in the musical proposals of the Etopia Urban Fest, and not only invite them to play again, but listen to their ideas and proposals.

Nieves: More communication and social networking… and finding ways for young people to share their presence and work in Etopia.