This Tuesday, the Council of Ministers appointed Manuela Villa (Madrid, 47 years old) as general director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, a newly created body, directly dependent on the Presidency, and which will allow the PSOE to have its own voice and capacity for action in an area that until now was occupied exclusively by Sumar, its partner in the government coalition, through Minister Ernest Urtasun. The election of the former deputy of the Madrid Assembly underlines her condition as her internal counterweight. First, because the PSOE secretary of culture and sport also arrives at La Moncloa coinciding with the fact that her party has lost for the first time the portfolio of which she is a specialist, and which she did maintain in the previous coalition government. Second, because she belongs to the hard core of the president, for whom she has coordinated contacts with the cultural world and specific visits to cinemas (to see Ace Bestas), festivals (such as Cala Mijas) or various presentations. And third, because its area has a very specific task, as detailed in the decree creating the organization: “Coordinate public policies in this matter.” Nothing more and nothing less.
“The president thus puts culture at the heart of the Presidency, as he has done with other strategic areas, such as the economy or international politics,” Villa says in a telephone conversation with this newspaper. “It is an advance for the sector, because culture has been atomized between different departments, such as Foreign Affairs, Economy or Culture, and that an organization like this is within the Presidency encourages more efficient actions than if one ministry tells another where to go” , Add. “Of suspicions [que pueda crear en Sumar] journalists inform me. I have neither seen them nor felt them. Minister Urtasun and I agree to welcome you to an area designed to push culture, with maximum humility and coordination,” he continues. “At first it may have generated some confusion, but I hope that in a month it won’t be like that, because there will be facilitation work,” he adds. And he concludes: “We must refrain from partisan interests, because there is a will to work together above the logic of each party. You have to transcend that, and I have bought into that idea.”
Villa and Urtasun have never spoken, although they had two appointments scheduled that were later canceled due to scheduling problems. Asked about his appointment, a ministry spokesperson referred to the minister’s statements about the creation of the organization, which occurred last Friday in La Sexta., when it was not yet known who would occupy the general direction.
“Any agency that wants to help us reinforce the presence of culture in the Government’s organizational chart will certainly be welcome,” said Urtasun about the new structure, dependent on Minister Félix Bolaños. “This is something that existed during Zapatero’s time,” he remarked, ignoring that at that time the entire government was from the PSOE and that, therefore, it did not mean creating a potential rivalry between government partners. “If the Presidency wants to recover the cultural affairs unit that was eliminated or another ministry wants to help us reinforce that presence, I will be delighted. But I want to claim that culture has regained weight in the Government’s organization chart since Sumar has assumed power,” he stressed. And he added: “When we negotiated the coalition agreement and Culture was proposed to us, we said that we wanted it to have a dignified and up-to-date organic representation.”
Advisor to the ministry during the period of José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes as Minister of Culture, responsible for content at the Matadero cultural space in Madrid, co-director of the La Noche en Blanco art festival in Madrid, founder of the Madrid Creators Archive and co-director of the Master’s degree itself. of international cultural management and social innovation from the Complutense University of Madrid, Villa continues with his signing for La Moncloa, a political journey that began in 2021 in the Madrid Assembly. There she has tried to leave her mark in a Chamber marked by the Governments of Isabel Díaz Ayuso and the influence of Vox in the previous legislature, when the Executive needed the votes of the extreme right.
Until now. His new destination is La Moncloa, where his work will be closely followed by Sumar’s representatives in the coalition government signed by Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz after the July 2023 elections.
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