End of stage of the Ateneo de Málaga
By Diego Rodríguez Vargas, President of the Ateneo de Málaga
I have often wondered how a person's cultural level is measured. We could find multiple answers without any of them being completely certain. My experience has made me understand culture as the ability to situate itself in any historical time with a sense of relativity and a determined commitment to improve the social context and the natural and urban environment in which we live. What it means to know, understand and think the world with a critical sense from an authentic intellectual and moral autonomy. To this we must add the longing to learn permanently, in addition to enjoying pleasantly the different expressions of culture. This is the definition that comes closest to the Ateneo's model of culture. Fifty years of commitment to democracy and freedom.
But the ateneís conception of the culture leads us to the diagnosis of a citizenship too uncritical and permissive with the privileges and the corruption. Already in my last stage of primary teacher and honorary collaborator of the University of Malaga, it was clear that the Ateneo was my trench from where to work for the promotion of culture in my city.
In the elections of the Board of Directors of 2009, after being vocal eight years in the previous one, I presented myself candidate to president of the Ateneo of Málaga with a new project, whose first objective was to incorporate people with a great dose of altruism that dedicated his free time to a non-profit institution and public utility. Even working with economic shortages as a result of cuts, disappearance of public subsidies and private collaborations. It was a participatory project, innovative and demanding in the quality of the activities we organize. The high number of vowels, thirty, with specific functions, was also a strategy to incorporate in the first line new talents and other generations of intellectuals with active involvement in programming and, if possible, in attracting new members. The Athenaeum had to adapt to the new times, both in the corporate image and in the projects that were approved. We could not continue to live on the revenues of the memorable first years in the Plaza del Obispo.
The urgency of finding sponsorships that would allow us to survive in the midst of economic crisis has been an obsession for me. Thanks to the excellent work of the treasurers, spending was controlled and the guidelines to be followed in the future were marked. The result has been to have at present sufficient solvency so that the next Board of Directors does not suffer the urge to seek the resources that allow the Ateneo to continue opening its doors every day. For this purpose, the vocalities had a minimum budget, which was only compensated in the 50th anniversary, thanks to the extraordinary collaboration of the City of Malaga, which led to an excellent programming while providing significant savings for the coming years.
Gone is the constitution of the Advisory Council with people of high cultural significance in Malaga. The appointment of Juan A. Lacomba as President of Honor. The award of twenty-eight Ateneo Medals. The creation of the new library with the bibliographic funds of Dr. Antonio Alcalá López, a complicated inheritance that we knew to resolve with effort and professionalism. The reform of the statutes. The new design of the web and the incorporation to the social networks. Thirteen monographs of ANS magazine. Edition of six books. The documentary Ateneo de Málaga, history of a resistance. Three manifestos written by commissions of intellectuals, coordinated and approved by the Board of Directors. The organization and custody in a space worthy of the art collection, another pending subject that we had to solve. The extraordinary program of the 50th anniversary in 2016, which only remains pending the publication of the book History of the Ateneo de Málaga. Prestigious intellectuals have participated in our Euromediterranean tribunals and Thought: Iñaki Gabilondo, Baltasar Garzón, Dolores Delgado, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Luis García Montero, Ramón Tamames, Juan José Tamayo, Fernando Arrabal, Jean Pierre Filiu, Francisco Javier Carrillo, Ángeles Caso, Victoria Camps, Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, Rosa Montero, Salvador Távora, Antonio Manuel Rodríguez ... Tributes to relevant thinkers at the national level: José Luis Sampedro, Antonio Gala, Ribas Prous, Julio Diamante €
The collaboration of the University, was strengthened with the creation of the Ateneo University Tribune, which has passed more than a hundred speakers. The Ateneo-UMA Awards have increased to seven categories, in addition to creating the Ateneo-Teatro Prize on an annual basis. Our Music Cycles in the Picasso Museum and other auditoriums of the city have been awarded by the Andalusian Athenaeum Federation. Innovative experiences "Let's Talk about Education in the Athenaeum", "Brutal Scene" and "Space Frank Rebajes" have brought together young theater, plastic arts and educational creators. The excellent expositions of art and photography, encounters with narrative and poetry, with urbanists and architects, with health professionals, video-makers, citizen participation in debates on relevant issues of the city, food culture and consumerism cycles, reorientation of the cineforum, presentation of more than one hundred and fifty books, permanent debate on the industrial heritage, the environment, anthropology, historical memory. Eight faculties of the UMA and two new extensions (Ojén and Benaoján) have joined the Ateneo.
In these moments close to the farewell, it is only fair to thank each and every one of my colleagues in the current Board of Directors for their great generosity for the enormous work done. Also to the members of the Advisory Council and the members of the previous period (2009-2013), who supported me to the end with impeccable and rigorous democratic management. My gratitude also to the Unicaja Bank Foundation, Malaga City Councils, Junta de Andalucía, UMA, Cedma, Picasso Museum, Malaga Foundation, Copicentro, El Angel Hospital, El Pimpi, Hotel Petit Palace € for your loyalty as sponsors or collaborators. And, above all, the partners and partners, who are the essential base and sustenance of the Athenaeum. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
Our project has come to an end. In these eight years I have tried to dedicate myself with passion and responsibility to the trust that the members entrusted to me when I was elected President of the Ateneo de Málaga. Sharing work with people of such human and intellectual value has been one of the most interesting experiences I have ever experienced.
I do not like to apologize because the mistakes I could make - I assure you - were not intentional. Whatever important decisions I made, always putting the interests of the Athenaeum ahead, were with the approval of the Board of Directors. But the best thing, once the transition of the previous stage has been overcome, has been the affection and the good atmosphere of relations between the members of the Board of Directors and the partners, in addition to the shared satisfaction of having opened and positioned the Ateneo in a city with a wide and growing cultural offer.
We finish the stage by opening the next course on October 16 in the Auditorium of the Museo Picasso Málaga with the presentation of the monographic ANS nº 23 dedicated to the performing arts. In the act, the playwright Salvador Távora will take part as a special guest. On Friday 13, as a complement and tribute to the theater will be represented sequences of THE DESIRE, by Picasso, directed by Juan Manuel Hurtado, at the headquarters of the Ateneo.
Of the elections that I will convene next October 3 and in which I will not be a candidate by limitation of mandate to eight years according to the reform of the statutes that I myself promoted, will leave a new board of directors with a new president.
From my best forecasts for those who continue such an enormous task, thank you from the heart.
Diego Rodríguez Vargas is president of the Ateneo de Málaga