Message from the President
I will begin this letter, heading our 2022 report, by expressing how pleased I am that we have completely returned to in person activities, feeling also excited that our audience was similarly happy to find us there again. There is no doubt that out of such a negative situation we should try to find strength, enhanced safety and joy in the presence of people in our streets, exhibition and conference halls, on stages and theater stalls.
A foundation is about evolution and change in order to remain, and this conviction has also guided our activity this year: Remaining our former selves in contemporary times.
Our founder’s idea (fostering the progress of Galicia through education) led to Galicia becoming a pioneer, hand in hand with Fundación Barrié, in the implementation of ICTs in education. If we apply this idea to current times, we just cannot ignore the latest trends in this regard.
For instance, technology has always presented two sides, yesterday just like nowadays, and one must choose which one to be present at, while remaining outside is not an option. Is there anyone who has not heard of drones in recent years? They have been at the forefront of war, both for protection and for destruction purposes; they have helped to manage catastrophes, they have given rise to new images in audiovisual production, and they have also become useful at home, being part of our daily lives. Although this world is still at an early stage, everchanging and, to a certain extent, unpredictable, it is quite clear that we must adopt digital literacy. This has been the spirit of the Maker Drone League which has celebrated its first open doors session this year. Its purpose is that of making available to students something which is already appealing to them: Technology. They say that a disciple’s first duty is surpassing their master, therefore, when we bring together technology and education, success is guaranteed. We’ll soon witness how these thrilled young people take us over.
However, there is also a negative side to young people’s attraction to novelty. This year has also produced a report about the uses of technology, of alarming proportions and with a similar repercussion. These are new problems which require new solutions, and the key is always to understand them better in order to foster a sensible use of everything that today’s world is offering us.
The technological aspects of culture aren’t new, and this year we have witnessed them in a long-reaching reflection which encompasses, without exaggeration, the whole human history. An exhibition titled Budha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockerfeller 3rd at Asia Society, has allowed us to deepen our knowledge of the origins of spirituality, the intricacies of pottery and metallurgy and their impact on the development and fusion of cultures, while making a reflection about the value of cultural patronage. None of the objects shown in what is one of the most important private collections of Asian art in the world is enclosed in itself. Japanese pottery talks about Central Europe; Buddhist sculpture refers to Greek culture, while Korean pottery does so to Chinese one, in such a way that our closeness and detachment from those pieces could be perceived with equal intensity. All of the pieces also talk to us about their owners and collectors, and about their intention to strengthen political ties, in a superlative way, through cultural understanding. The same idea behind the gifts made by the Chinese to the Persians also motivated Rockefeller to display Asian art in New York, and has also motivated us to bring it over to Galicia. An example of the relevance of this collection was the fact that the USA ambassador attended the opening of the exhibition. On behalf of the whole region, we wished to correspond to this deference with the best that we could offer: A visit to the Portal of Glory, the restoration of which has been our project and, undoubtedly, the most important restoration ever tackled in Galicia. The Portal of Glory project has brought us a new satisfaction: The reception ceremony of the Europa Nostra Awards held in Toledo and presided by Queen Sofía. Its purpose was that of granting a well-deserved national dimension to the most prestigious award in our continent, which we received in 2021.
Besides, there is something else linking us to American philanthropy: The willingness to tap on human capital. Together with the grants, which have allowed a more standardized management this year, but have also made the most of the innovation while managing them during the pandemic. Our commitment to Galician talent has been materialized in the Ignicia Program, carried out together with the Galician Innovation Agency.
Intent on fostering talent, we shouldn’t ignore the great protagonists of the future. Thus, this year we have organized the first public call of the Oratory Schoolchildren’s Tournament, a younger version of the Academic Debate Tournament. Introducing public-speaking tools and skills isn’t just the key for training people, but also for society as a whole. Oratory is also about knowing how to listen.
In the opening lines, I already said that a foundation is an evolution: It encompasses all the people who have helped to give it its current shape and who are an inspiration for the future. That is why I would like to finish this letter by paying tribute to María Luisa Martínez Poch, who passed away in the year we’re describing, but who will always remain in the hearts of all of those who are part of the Fundación Barrié.
José María Arias Mosquera
President, Barrié Foundation