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In support of Antonio Banderas

In-fighting and jealousy have killed off the actor’s plans for an arts and entertainment center in Malaga

Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas.
Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas. ATLAS

When it comes to the world of culture, Spain is still failing on one key issue: the capacity to attract talent for the promotion and generation of synergies that assist in achieving ambitious goals that benefit everyone. Some cities have managed this off their own back, such as Bilbao with the Guggenheim, or Malaga. The latter has transformed itself into a dynamic cultural hub able to ensure the coexistence of the legacy of Picasso, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, Pompidou and Saint Petersburg collections and contemporary art in a range of forums that create a dialogue and complement each other in an attractive and exemplary manner.

Now that Banderas has pulled out of the project, everyone hypocritically regrets his decision

That is why it is impossible to understand the way the actor Antonio Banderas – who has pulled out of his plans for an arts and entertainment center saying he feels “humiliated” – has been mistreated by his hometown. The City Hall, governed by a minority Popular Party council, had organized a competition to come up with ideas on how to re-purpose the former Astoria and Victoria cinemas in the heart of the city’s downtown, and which were purchased by the authorities in 2010 for €21.7 million.

Banderas, who has acted as an unofficial ambassador for Malaga and the Andalusia region on the international stage, won that competition with plans to turn the area into a cultural center. His proposal included the creation of a theater, exhibition spaces, a cinema and retail space. But the naiveté of the mayor in insinuating that future tender conditions could include the need for a “person of influence” gave rise to an unmerited flood of accusations of favoritism toward the actor.

It is impossible to understand the way that Antonio Banderas has been treated by his hometown

The United Left (IU), along with its council partners, the anti-austerity Podemos party and the center-right Ciudadanos, proposed the cancellation of the results of the ideas contest even though it had been non-binding. The Socialists (PSOE) looked the other way and abstained. Overwhelmed by the insults, Banderas has pulled out. Now, hypocritically, everyone regrets his decision.

Any project involving public money should be managed in a transparent manner. This should be compatible with the promotion of a high-profile project. This was the case here, but in-fighting and envy have killed off the plan. It is a shame.

English version by George Mills.

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