Fira Mediterrània's promotional strategy abroad consists of 30 initiatives in Europe, Africa and the Americas

A highlight of the National and International Plan of Action is the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion's new project, 'Traditional Cultures in Dialogue'

A highlight of the National and International Plan of Action is the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion's new project, 'Traditional Cultures in Dialogue'

The organisers of Fira Mediterrània Manresa have designed a National and International Plan of Action for this year (2017). It has greater scope than last year, through the addition of new fields of action and the renewal of the main agreements from previous years. Consequently, around 30 strategic initiatives are planned in more than 15 countries and regions in Europe, Africa and the Americas. One important development is the renewal of funding for a new Euroregional Pyrenees Mediterranean project, 'Traditional Cultures in Dialogue'.

The new Euro-regional project involves the same partners as last time: Fira Mediterrània; Sa Xerxa, for children and young people's theatre, based in the Balearic Islands; and CIRDÒC – the Interregional Centre of Occitan Development, which is the initiative's leading organisation. The partners of the Occitan-Catalan-Balearic network will work together to broaden the social, cultural and linguistic foundations they share, which unite all three cultures. The project will run in 2017 and 2018, and it will focus on disseminating intangible heritage; it will end in 2018 when a forum will be held in the iconic Occitan location of Pont de Gard. The initiative will be given a prominent position in the 20th Fira Mediterrània's programme with Focus Occitània, and the line-up consists of eight projects that provide a rich overview of Occitan intangible heritage, centred on four different areas: folkloric festival creatures, polyphony, dance and traditional games.

Consolidation of agreements

The Plan of Action has been finalised with the consolidation of the main working agreements over recent years with countries and regions such as Germany, France, Bulgaria, Portugal, Morocco, La Pulla (Italy), the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Aragon, and Castile and Leon. In some cases, agreements have stemmed from professional delegations attending events held at Fira Business Area. This is the case of Poland, and Polish representatives of various festivals and institutions will come to this year's fair in Manresa. Fira will also host performances by two Polish artists.

The Plan consists of different kinds of exchange — artistic, professional and/or communicative — of which the main objective is to boost work opportunities and provide Catalan artists with new mechanisms for exhibiting their work. Ensembles such as Doctor Prats, Oques Grasses and Inxa Impro Quintet, among others, will give performances in Morocco, Portugal, Castile and Leon, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands throughout the year, based on different agreements to promote artistic exchange.

Two projects that Fira has been involved in over recent years deserve a special mention: the Adifolk International Gathering in Ostrava and the presence of Catalan artists at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington.

As regards the Adifolk International Gathering, Fira's organisers were instrumental in securing a partner and venue for the 2017 International Gathering. As a result, an agreement was reached to host Adifolk in the Czech city of Ostrava, and the city hosted an international display of traditional Catalan culture in July at the Festival in the Streets / Festival Colours of Ostrava.

As regards the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, in 2018, Catalan culture will be the Guest Culture at the prestigious festival held every year in Washington at the start of July. Hosted directly in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, the event attracts more than one million visitors, and it is one of the most significant platforms worldwide for cultural dissemination. Considered a strategic initiative by the Catalan government, attending the event represents an excellent opportunity to publicise and promote Catalan culture in the United States. This comes at a time when raising awareness about Catalonia on an international scale is important. Representatives of Fira Mediterrània Manresa have been invited to join a commission to oversee Catalan involvement in the event, as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is based around the concept of traditional culture, which resonates directly with Fira Mediterrània.