Barcelona Trade Union Campaigns Against Planned Woody Allen Museum
Activists want the former art school to resume its educational functions.
This past spring, news that Woody Allen would get a museum dedicated to his prolific oeuvre in Barcelona spread like wildfire in the media.
It was reported that the Spanish production company Mediapro, which has produced three recent films by the legendary filmmaker, is behind the plans for the Woody Allen Center, which would open in La Llotja, a former arts and crafts school at the heart of Barcelona’s gothic neighborhood that has stood empty since 2009.
At first, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Allen loves Barcelona, where he shot his most successful film in recent times, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)—a comedy in which actors Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz play a pair of abstract expressionist painters enmeshed in volatile love triangle with a wide-eyed American, played by Scarlett Johansson, and in which the city features prominently. In fact, many regarded the film as an extended Barcelona tourist board ad (Allen received €1 million funding from the city council).
Crucially, Barcelona (and Spain in general) reciprocates Allen’s feelings. In 2002, the director won the prestigious Príncipe de Asturias Arts Award in recognition of his career. The prize is awarded in the Asturian city of Oviedo, where a life-size Woody Allen bronze statue was erected right in the center of town.
And yet, a steady tide of opposition against the Allen museum has been gaining momentum, on the basis that the venture would benefit tourists rather than citizens. According to the Guardian, a group led by the trade union Comisiones Obreras has started campaigning for the building to return to the function it was initially built to fulfil: an art school.
The activists, who organized workshops and activities outside the museum this weekend in protest, are also reminding the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, that she promised to reopen the building as an art school during her electoral campaign last spring.
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