The Art Factories project responds to the need for work spaces and places for artists to meet with other creators. This is how former industrial buildings became venues for the cultural life and artistic heart of the city.
Barcelona has always displayed a limitless capacity to generate ideas, curiosity and innovation, and it has done so through the critical and creative participation of its citizens. The cultural richness and vivacity of Barcelona has led to the emergence of artists of all kinds throughout the years. Many of these creators have emerged from initiatives and collectives that became key parts of understanding the creation of the Art Factories programme.
Until the last decade of the 20th century, the cultural activity of the city was predominantly handled by private initiatives or associations. However, due to a distinct vocation for public service, they began to propagate activities within their areas and collaborate with other entities. These experiences evolved from rehearsal spaces, workshops and studios into meeting points and spaces of exchange and experimentation for artists, creators and the general public. Eventually, these projects began to become repositories for a variety of proposals that quickly became artistic spaces of note within the city.
By the late 90s, the lack of space and resources was becoming a problem for some of these centres, so they began to move their activities to other buildings. The alternative was the old factory complexes that had once driven the industrial and association-led past of the city which were now at risk of decline. Once renovated, these large spaces provided the perfect conditions by offering sufficient space and freedom for artistic creation initiatives. This was the beginning of what would later inspire the municipal Art Factories programme.
In 2007, faced with the demands of artist collectives for suitably equipped spaces, the Barcelona City Council formulated the first government measure related to the Art Factories. From that point onwards, the Institut de Cultura worked to build a network of publicly-owned facilities. This network has been created partly through the incorporation of spaces that were already on a consolidated trajectory thanks to the promotion of the city’s artistic collectives, and partly by opening new facilities run by entities from various artistic fields.
Above, an image of the industrial past of La Escocesa. On the left, a paint pot from Ivanow paint. Below, the machinery at Fabra i Coats when it was a textile factory.
To guarantee the functioning of this large cultural and artistic mechanism, the Barcelona City Council developed the project that is now known as Art Factories. Through this initiative, the public administration has become responsible for large centres that have become renowned for their importance to the city’s creative and artistic scene. And, as a result, has committed to responding to the demands of a mature city with a dynamic, modern and democratic cultural model.