CSA La Tabacalera

CSA La Tabacalera

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From the Tobacco Factory to the Self Organized Social Center

The  building of the former Tobacco Factory of Embajadores is in public  ownership and under the Ministry of Culture through the General  Directorate of Fine Arts (GDFA).  Due to its characteristics, the building is part of the historical  heritage and has been listed as Heritage of Cultural Interest.

The Tobacco Factory of Madrid was finally vacated in 2009, just after the privatization of La Tabacalera/Altadis. The building remained abandoned for ten years of progressive deterioration and no maintenance, ten years of struggles to open the building to a neighbourhood with a lack of public spaces.

By  November 2007, the Cabinet approved an agreement in order to found the  National Visual Arts Center (CNAV), whose headquarters were suposed to  be held in the Tabacalera building. The July 29th, 2008 seven  architecture consultants were invited via email to submit a proposal. In  November 2009 the Minister of Culture, César Antonio Molina, presented  to the media the project chosen toghether with the authors: Nieto and  Sobejano. On 26th November, the Council of Architects rejected the award procedure. The February 25th, 2009 announced a new contest and finally the June 2, 2009 Nieto and Sobejano again were graced with the award of the project, this time with Ángeles González-Sinde as minister.

The project, with a total cost 30 million euros,  is not carried out for lack of funds and proposes and the DGBA proposes  to SCCPP cultural association to conduct an artistic and cultural  project in the building. This association, which had participated in  public discussions about the future of the building,  extends the  proposal to other groups and residents of the neighborhood of Lavapies  and accepts the DGBA order, signing a one-year contract that commits to  develop a self-managed project called Self Managed Social Center La  Tabacalera, using 9200 meters of the 30,000 square available from the  building.

After two years in which the legal status depended on that contract and a  renewal for another year, LTBC, articulated as a independent project,  requested to DGBA the execution of a cession agreement that would give stability in the space and over time, to this experience of participation. This assignment took effect in January 2012, for a period of two years, renewable for two at a maximum of eight years.

The  transfer was performed at the CSA La Tabacalera Cultural Association of  Lavapies, an association created by the assembly of the social center  and anyone can join, for the sole purpose of having a valid legal  concept that could take over the assignment. In the statutes of the association is made explicit mention that does not interfere in the decision-making  of the CSA, leaving this matter to the assembly and the committees that  manage the center-all of them open to whoever wants to participate.

LTBC is a social center,  promotes the direct participation of citizenship in managing the public  domain. A cultural center that understands culture as a concept  encompassing creative and social skills of citizenship. These  capabilities include not only artistic production, but also social  action, critical thinking and the dissemination of ideas, works and  procedures that seek to expand and democratize the public sphere. LTBC  is a comprehensive center that includes languages and modes of  expression, but also the complexity of demographic, cultural, ethnic,  records and ways of inhabiting the territory and the time in the short  therm.

In this context, project of LTBC is a bet in a low shape that provides opportunities to meet and accept the responsibility to address its drawbacks.  Since its inception, has been an open invitation to all kinds of groups  and individuals to get involved and participate in the project. As a  result, the internal social composition LTBC shows the complexity and  richness of a life that supports the diversity of human beings and  builds its own ecosystem betting on intercultural coexistence,  inter-ethnic, gender and sexual exceptions and, ultimately, by  heterogeneity.

To enable this new model are required: (a) full autonomy for the organization and development of the initiative from those who integrates, (b) exploration of public management in terms of participatory democracy, (c) promoting cultural practices of low cost and free culture, (d) a programming methodology different from classical practices of cultural management, (e) the effort to level the different scales of social and cultural expression.

LTBC neither is and  can not be the use of a few well-connected people or privileged.  By their nature (not proprietary or appropriated, public, commons), can  not even be the common resource of a permanent group. The condition is  the opening to a new compositions, new events, at different levels of  involvement, work, use. In LTBC are not only shown the initiatives that  are placed stably in the building, but all those who need space and  comply with the criteria that sustain it: free  and open culture, cooperation, horizontality, transparency, non-profit  or proprietary use, but collective, supportive and responsible resource  … is precisely the features that make LTBC a unique experiment which  make it a public reference and, therefore, not subject to the property  of the parties that have driven the initiative.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you want to contact us, propose or ask something, the best way is to come to the center, the comments left on pages are, unfortunatelly, not always answered. Periodically, we perform a welcome workshop in which we tell you how the CSA rules and solve any doubts. Thank you and hope hearing from you soon!!



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CSA La Tabacalera
53, Calle de Embajadores
28012 Madrid


Former squat, now legalised
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