By Cristina Vázquez
The performing arts have clearly demonstrated their ability to cope with adversity, be it economic crises or the pandemic caused by the coronavirus. They always look for spaces to continue subsisting while their artists contribute with their social work.
It is enough to remember the emergence of Microteatro in November 2009 in an old brothel in Madrid, where 13 rooms housed 13 independent groups to present a theatrical piece, from 10 to 15 minutes, sharing the same theme: prostitution, for an audience no larger than 10 people.
Microteatro has venues in at least five countries in cities such as Miami, where the same works are represented in English and Spanish, Bogota and Leon, in the case of Mexico, demonstrating its success despite its detractors.
The context in which this theatrical movement appeared was marked by the economic crisis in Spain, the cuts in culture and the increase in VAT that caused the loss of spectators and the closure of many a theater.
Cristina Oñoro Otero, from the Complutense University of Madrid, relates in her article When theater is necessary: new theater formats a decade later (2009-2019) that during the years following the outbreak of the crisis, the offer of original proposals grew like foam in unconventional spaces: houses, shops, rooftops, prisons, hairdressers, old brothels, porters.
And those proposals were not limited to the Microteatro. They also covered immersive, ambulatory and serial theater. «We must also point out the success of the public, the dynamism of the programming, the reduced price of the ticket, as well as the use of social networks and attractive web pages for the diffusion and publicity of the shows,» says Oñoro Otero.
The offer of small-format productions, although not so recent, has gained new momentum. It occurs, for example, with Sofar Sounds, a project born in London in 2009, which organizes intimate concerts in unique spaces in more than 400 cities worldwide, including Mexico City, Toronto and Chicago. What makes it interesting and attractive is keeping the place where the show will take place a secret. It is revealed 24 hours in advance, via email, in which they provide the address to the public that has been selected to attend.
The names of the musicians who will perform live are also not disclosed, on the premise that all artists should be treated with the same respect, whether they are famous or not.
Occasionally poets, comedians or dancers also participate. Sometimes you have to pay for tickets, and other times the audience makes a cash donation at the end of the concert. The artist may well receive the production of a video or a fixed payment or in exchange for his performance.
At first, Sofar concerts were only organized in the houses or apartments of the hosts. Now concerts are held in offices, warehouses, galleries, museums and even ships.
In Chicago, the city where I live, the concerts known as Candlelight have generated increasing interest, where you can listen to, literally by candlelight in an intimate atmosphere, works by composers such as Beethoven, Vivaldi or Chopin and recently a special series of black composers.
It is a multisensory experience in inspiring venues to enjoy classical music programmed by FeverUp, an app whose objective is to propose to the user a personalized list of events that take place in some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world (Mexico City, Toronto, Montreal, Madrid, New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, Los Angeles).
Like Sofar Sounds, the location where the concert will take place is revealed until the last moment. It can be a basilica, a cathedral or a mansion, among other spaces, but here too the capacity is reduced and that guarantees a greater closeness to the interpreters.
These small-format productions can easily adhere to the health regulations imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as maintaining an adequate distance between viewers. Which shows, once again, how workers in the performing arts manage to escape the crisis with creative and innovative proposals, while betting on economic reactivation.
As I said at the beginning, the performing arts always find ways to turn around adversity, to raise awareness and to seek a more pleasant life. In this era, they also do it under models of inclusion, gender parity and easy accessibility.The show must go on!
Cristina Vázquez, director of Contenidos Artísticos Production and Diffusion, is a cultural manager, programmer and producer. One of her main purposes is to promote the circulation of the Performing Arts.
Mexican, from the city of León, she graduated from the Communication Sciences career and continued her training as a cultural manager with studies from the National Council for Culture and the Arts and in 17, the Institute of Critical Studies, where she obtained the Cultural Management Certificate from the Critical Entrepreneurship.
Cristina Vázquez has the strong conviction that going to meet new viewers, both in Mexico and in the United States and other countries, contributes to fighting stereotypes, opening new communication channels and forming communities.
Her quest is to create lasting relationships between audiences, artists and institutions. The expansion of audiences, she thinks, generates knowledge and understanding among the inhabitants of this global village.
In 2012 she founded Contenidos Artísticos, a firm dedicated to the programming, production and dissemination of artistic and cultural projects, based in Mexico, which is complemented, since 2015, with Contenidos Artísticos INC, based in Chicago, Illinois.
With the multidisciplinary collaboration of important allies, Cristina Vázquez advised the Municipality of Zacatecas in the elaboration of its Cultural Development Plan and coordinated the National Book Fair (Fenal) from 2006 to 2009. Since 2016, she has been collaborating permanently with the Cultural Institute of León in various programming and production projects.
She was a programmer at the Teatro del Bicentenario in León, has worked with the Teatro Juárez in Guanajuato and developed and operated the urban meeting “Todo sobre Ruelas” in Zacatecas.
In addition, in 2012 and 2013 she produced and programmed the José Alfredo Jiménez International Festival, which pays tribute to the great Mexican icon and singer-songwriter, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato.
Since 2013 she works for the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL). She has produced and coordinated important projects with the Mexican National Ballet Company having as headquarters the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Juárez Theater, during the Cervantino Festival, as well as with the National Opera Company and the National Theater Coordination. In 2019, she began a collaboration with the National Center for the Arts (CENART) by producing the International Black and White Piano Festival.
In 2018, she made alliances with agencies in the United States for the circulation of the performing arts in Mexico. This is how she presented Fuse, a group based in Italy, with its multimedia performance Dökk and the Colombian company Sankofa Danzafro with its acclaimed show La ciudad de los otros.
Through Contenidos Artísticos INC, the production agency, for the past five years she has focused on bicultural work between Mexico and the United States. Her work has been to find spaces for Mexican artists to present themselves on the other side of the border, while contributing to the construction of an image of Mexican culture and art that transcends the folkloric.
In 2017 she introduced the Mexican poet Rojo Córdoba, who worked with Spoken Word groups, in Chicago. And the following year she promoted three Mexican bands: Troker, electronic jazz; Doble Redoble, contemporary cumbia, and Sonido Gallo Negro, a psychedelic cumbia group for which she organized a tour in the United States. This in conjunction with various Latino festivals and organizations in Chicago, such as the Mole de Mayo Festival. Thanks to these alliances, she has produced tours for artists from Chicago and other cities in the United States in Mexico.
During November 2018, she invited Mexican programmers to see, both in Chicago and New York, the work of Manual Cinema, a multidisciplinary company that combines cinematographic techniques with shadow theater, sound and music to create immersive experiences.
She co-produces the Tania Pérez-Salas Company since 2018. During 2019 she worked on the organization of their tour through Mexico, the United States and Canada, which would take place in the following year.
As of January 20, 2020, Vázquez is the first Mexican woman to be part of the Board of Directors of the Association of Professionals for the Performing Arts (APAP), which emerged in 1957 in the United States and is a world leader in this cultural field. One of their main tasks is to participate and promote REDI (Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion) policies.
The great pragmatism and permanent professionalism of Cristina Vázquez has allowed her to contribute to the artistic and cultural development of Mexico and its international projection.
Versión en español
Cristina Vázquez, directora de Contenidos Artísticos Producción y Difusión, es gestora cultural, programadora y productora. Uno de sus propósitos principales es fomentar la interculturalidad a través de la circulación de las artes.
Concibe la interculturalidad como el encuentro, la interacción y reconstrucción de las distintas culturas locales. En palabras del experto argentino Carlos Moneta, permite comparar formas de vida y establecer comunicaciones portadoras de imágenes, valores y contenidos que afectan las identidades más allá de la nacionalidad.
En 2012 fundó Contenidos Artísticos, firma dedicada a la programación, producción y difusión de proyectos artísticos y culturales, con sede en México, que se complementa, desde 2015, con Contenidos Artísticos INC, con sede en Chicago, Illinois.
A través de Contenidos Artísticos INC, la agencia productora, se ha enfocado desde hace un lustro en el trabajo bicultural entre México y Estados Unidos. Su labor ha sido la de buscar espacios para que los artistas mexicanos se presenten del otro lado de la frontera, aportando a la vez la construcción de una imagen de la cultura y el arte mexicano que trasciende lo folclórico.
Esa apertura de espacios permite visualizar, en ambos países, que las artes escénicas son una herramienta indispensable para construir un intercambio artístico de calidad permanente y atender a la diversidad de públicos.
Originaria de León, Guanajuato, Vázquez es egresada de la carrera de Ciencias de la Comunicación y
continuó su formación como gestora cultural con 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos.
El gran pragmatismo y la permanente profesionalización de Cristina Vázquez le han permitido coadyuvar
al desarrollo artístico y cultural de México y su proyección a nivel internacional.
A partir del 20 de enero de 2020, Vázquez es la primera mujer mexicana en formar parte del Consejo Directivo de la Asociación de Profesionales de las Artes Escénicas (APAP por sus siglas en inglés), surgida en 1957 en Estados Unidos y líder a nivel mundial en este ámbito cultural.
Recientemente organizó la gira de la Compañía Tania Pérez-Salas por México, Estados Unidos y Canadá, pero debido a la pandemia derivada del coronavirus el grupo de danza contemporánea únicamente alcanzó a dar un par de funciones, el 13 y 14 de marzo, en el Teatro Juárez de Guanajuato con el apoyo de EFIDANZA.