Manuela Villa, new General Director of Cultural Affairs in Moncloa: “I am not here to take away anyone’s place or powers”

It was an open secret, although she had been talking about things for days since, last Friday, the decree by which Pedro Sánchez created a cultural affairs department Dependent of Presidency and with the rank of General Directorate. This Tuesday, The Council of Ministers has approved the appointment of Manuela Villa for said position, one day after she handed in her deputy certificate in the Madrid Assembly.

Manuela Villa (Madrid, 1976) is Secretary of Culture and Sports in the Federal Executive of the PSOE and, to date, a deputy in the Madrid Assembly, in whose parliamentary group she was spokesperson for Culture. In 2020 she was advisor to the cabinet of the then Minister of Culture, José Miguel Rodríguez Uribesand have one long career as cultural manager: worked for more than eleven years in Slaughterhouse as head of content and its artistic residency program and has been co-director of The White Night.

According to the definition of her functions published in the BOE, Manuela Villa will from now on be in charge of “facilitating the President of the Government’s coordination of the Government’s action”, assisting him in matters related to national, international and economic policy, advising him in relation to programs and actions of the European Union that have an impact on the public policies of that State, as well as the public policies and programs of the different autonomous governments. That is to say, functions that already correspond to the current Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, in whose department the news fell like a bomb last week, despite the fact that, in statements to La Sexta, he used arguments and recalled that Rodríguez Zapatero already had a similar figure and that, “when we negotiated the coalition agreement and It was proposed to us to take on Culture, we said that we wanted a dignified and up-to-date organic representation. It was not correct that if we were going to take on Culture we did not have a ministry without institutional strength.” The truth is that Zapatero had this figure, but the culture Ministry It was managed by his own party, the PSOE, and was not part of a coalition agreement with Sumar, as is the case.

“The perception of threat, if it exists, I hope to be able to work on it so that it dissipates because I much less feel that he is coming to take away anyone’s place or powers.“, Manuela Villa declared to this newspaper, minutes after her appointment was officially announced. Regarding the suspicions or confusion that this has caused in Sumar’s ranks, Villa understands “those party logic, but I think we have to transcend that kind of competition, beyond our acronyms. Add and PSOE are sister parties and we must think about the general well-being”. According to the new general director of Cultural Affairs, “we can do many things together and I put myself at the service of all ministries, including those of Sumar”.

Regarding whether his position will bear the weight of issues such as the development of the Artist Statute wave internationalization of cultureVilla maintains: “I don’t think it is the place to take on these tasks, or any other, because I imagine (this department) more as an area of ​​facilitation. If the Ministry of Culture needs to lubricate the relationship with any other ministry, we will be there to support it, to assist it.” Regarding internationalization, “it is distributed in numerous areas of the government and there, indeed, I believe that there can be more work of coordination and facilitation of an internationalization policy. But I don’t think they are my powers as such, but rather those of facilitate, contribute and promote “that those policies that have their powers in each of the different areas can have a better relationship between them.”

“Culture is atomized in different areas and it does not hurt that the Presidency tries to streamline the relationships between these different areas, and it must be normalized,” adds Villa, “that there is an area of ​​culture in the Presidency like there is in the Economy or Foreign Affairs, issues that are strategic for the country, and I think it is good news that the culture It is also seen as a strategic sector of the country”.

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