In October of 2003, Carmen Calvo, Minister of Andalucia province’s Cultural Advisory Board, unveiled the “Flamenco Porvenir” plan. This plan, which lasts from 2004 through 2011, creates the official Agency of Andalusia for the Development of Flamenco and guides the foundation of a museum dedicated to the distinctly Spanish music and dance art in Jerez de la Frontera, as well as the expansion of the Centro Andaluz de Flamenco, and the creation of a flamenco television channel.
One of the principal branches of this agency will be the Corporation for the Promotion and Commercialization of Flamenco, giving an economic boost to the sector, relying mainly on public funding and capital coming from some private companies. An “Economic Observatory of Flamenco” will compile data and analyze the economic effect of flamenco.
The plan was introduced in Seville at an event attended by numerous flamenco personalities, such as Manolo Sanlúcar, Esperanza Fernández, Matilde Coral, Mario Maya, Juan Peña El Lebrijano, Cristina Hoyos, and Mayte Martín.
Coinciding with this plan is UNESCO’s addition of flamenco to its list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”
According to Calvo, the plan provides “an agile and autonomous instrument to provide to all the initiatives undertaken by this institution.” UNESCO’s declaration will contribute to “the process of reaffirmation of the diversity and creativity of this unique patrimony, as well as an increased consciousness of its importance as a channel for the collective practice of the people of Andalusia.”
This is a monumental shift in governmental thought and action regarding flamenco, which has long been considered as Iberian “nigger music.” From its formation in the early 18th century (based on roots and trends going back hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years further), it has been relegated to the despised minorities and borderline characters of Spain – Gypsies, Jews, poor Andalucian farmers – and regarded with embarrassment or, at best, indifference.
Among the most unique, artistically penetrating and subtle art forms, Spain is finally giving its own art a proper place in the priorities of the nation. In an era of homogenization, largely as a result of globalization, in which first each US state, then each international airport and finally almost every high street in the Western world is beginning to look the same – with Starbucks, Nike stores, banks – and all the music vetted by MTV, this is one art form that fails with homogenization, that becomes less palatable as it is diluted. To say we could use a reminder that whiskey still exists in this age of small beer would be to state the obvious.