Gregorio Marañón: “It seems that the protests at the Teatro Real were organized”

Gregorio Marañón: “It seems that the protests at the Teatro Real were organized”

Before the first suspension of a function of the Madrid coliseum, the president of his Foundation reflects on the incidents and clarifies the measures that were taken afterwards.

Gregorio Marañón:

On Sunday, September 20, a function in the recent history of the Royal Theater was suspended for the first time, after the insistent protests of a group of spectators from the 'chicken coop' who considered that the advisable separation between the attendees was not kept. The next day, Gregorio Marañón , president of the institution's board of trustees, affirmed that the coliseum did comply with all the safety regulations required by the Community of Madrid, which includes the use of a mask and sets the occupancy limit at 75% . The Community, however, does not require that there be free seats among those spectators who do not attend the show together. After the incidents, the Royal decided to set the occupancy cap at 65% in all areas of the theater. There have been no incidents in the performances of 'Un ballo in maschera'.

Can that suspension bring any consequence? The theater complied with all current regulations, and some more that had self-imposed, such as reducing its capacity to 65%. Being always sensitive to the opinions of our spectators, we have now adopted another additional measure: that the capacity limitation not only applies to the entire room but, separately, in each of its areas, so that none can have a occupancy higher than 65%. Do you think the protests are organized? It seems so, but I prefer not to speculate about it. The truth is that that Sunday there were spectators who prevented the development of the representation with their shouts and did not want to be relocated to other areas of the theater or to have their tickets returned. They were very few, among the almost 900 who attended the function, but they were enough to achieve the cancellation. Why might there be people interested in harming the theater? We live in a rarefied social moment, with growing radicalization. Those who wanted to prevent the performance knew that if they succeeded, the impact of their action would be immense. And so it has been, due to the national and international projection that the Royal Theater has. Do you think that the protests were aimed at preventing the performance? A large majority of those who protested did not, and their protest has been by the leadership theater the highest consideration. Hence, for example, the measure of applying the capacity limitation to all areas equally. Friday [September 18, the day of the premiere of 'Un ballo in maschera'] there were no protests and two days later there were … On Friday, the stalls were packed, and no one could have been fooled by saying that some spectators were more protected than others. Will the protests return? On Wednesday [for the first show after the protests] they were not reproduced, and they lack a reason for being. What happened started from a provocation and the flame spread. I think it should not be reproduced. How do you rate the 500,000 euros set aside for the Real to fight covid-19? Without security we would not have opened the Teatro Real to the workers or the public. This amount is an additional investment that the theater has made to fight the pandemic. For all this, we have deserved the AENOR seal that recognizes the exemplary nature of these measures. How much money does the Royal Theater receive annually from the State and what percentage of the budget is it? We have a budget close to 60 million euros. 25% is contributed by public administrations, another 25% comes from private sponsorship and the remaining 50% corresponds to the theater's own income, mainly the box office. You have said that this public aid is returned. The economic activity of the theater directly employs 500 people, and indirectly another 500. The tax revenue produced by this activity exceeds the public contribution that we receive from the State, as the excellent study by Deloitte. In this time of confusion, the box office falls and the sponsors could fall back … Are you afraid that the spectator will stay at home or that, on the contrary, they will need to go out, see the theater, listen to music? The sponsors, as well as the public administrations , are resolutely supporting the Teatro Real, and, as we have seen in the performances of La traviata last July, or in the opening of this new season, fans also continue to come to the theater within the existing capacity limitations. Season tickets – which represent 65% of the box office – have only dropped 15%. We are doing relatively well. Can anything be learned from this pandemic? You can always learn from an experience, no matter how adverse and painful it may be. And this is it. Life always teaches us. You hear phrases like this: “People are afraid and fear is unpredictable.” This pandemic has two risks: that of infection and that of fear. We have to fight both. And, for this reason, we socially have the obligation that the first institution of the performing and musical arts in our country continues open, respecting all current regulations, so that Culture, which is intelligent, critical and utopian leisure, can continue. What other activities does the theater offer, apart from the usual ones? The social and pedagogical project, for example, and the live broadcasts of operas in the streets and squares of our cities, in cultural centers, schools and hospitals. More than 70,000 children thus follow the activities of the pedagogical program. Since 2007 you have been president of the board of trustees, what has been your greatest contribution? We have done everything we have achieved as a team, and it is not a rhetorical response. The management team of the Teatro Real, headed by Ignacio García-Belenguer, and with Joan Matabosch in the artistic field, all the workers of the Teatro Real, its orchestra and its choir, are those who, from their excellence and their institutional commitment, have achieved that the Royal Theater has reached a great international projection and is today one of the main Spanish cultural institutions, according to the Barometer of Culture of the Contemporary Foundation. It maintains that the Royal Theater is not so much a stage for leisure as for reflection . There are many kinds of leisure, that of culture is one of them, if not the main one, and the one that backs up a society. And culture must always provoke that reflection to which I refer. On November 4, his memoirs will be published, go ahead something. Our memories explain who we are and are the roots of what we project. My life has passed, and continues to pass, through the world of culture, business, law and politics, understood as a civic obligation. I am a citizen of the Transition who continues to work for the future. How do you see the 'Plácido Domingo case'? My fervent wish is that in the immediate future it becomes evident that those events did not take place.

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