On July 14, the Governing Council of the Community of Madrid approved a validation for 1,566,601 euros for the benefit of Clece (a services company that belongs to the ACS group, chaired by Florentino Pérez), as elDiario.es has been able to learn. The payment corresponds to the management services of the theater of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and the Teatros del Canal de Madrid, during the months of March and April 2021. These bulky bills, in addition to those of January and February, will be repeated until July and are the result of operational limbo in which both centers fell due to the delay of half a year with which the specifications of the new tender for the management of the same were published. A week to expire the contract that linked for eleven years to the company with the most important stage unit in the region, and probably Spain, the Minister of Culture Marta Rivera de la Cruz (initially in Citizens and now appointed by Diaz Ayuso councilor) presented the specifications that had been drafted by the team of the previous counselor, Jaime de los Santos (PP).
The cost of the extension that caused the delay benefits the current contractor, which receives the amount without call and at its free disposal. And by an extraordinary mechanism, the convalidation, which is reserved for unforeseeable causes or social emergencies to meet the immediate payment of invoices submitted by the supplier. The validations were not created to enable the payment of the expenditure generated by a failure in the call for a public tender. It was an issue that was foreseen by the preceding team and that the opposition warned the councilor in November 2019. However, the Council of the Community of Madrid has been forced to approve every two months, as a result of negligence in the management of the contest, a million and a half euros so that the Canal Theatres do not close until the contest is resolved. In total, more than five million euros will be approved without legal support.
In late June, half a year after the conclusion of the contract, the regional government awarded the tender to the joint venture formed by the companies imesAPI and Salzillo, for 19.9 million euros (similar to the previous amount). Clece challenged the result for lack of transparency, which has just been resolved in favor of the new concession. The ACS company is therefore out of the future of the Canal Theatres but for seven months has assumed the task of keeping the center open, with the consequent economic burden while the unit recovered its normal budget. At the time Clece declined to make any consideration on the negotiation of the extraordinary budget to be submitted to the Ministry, now consulted by the prolongation of this situation have not wanted to make any comment. For its part, the team of Marta Rivera de la Cruz denied to esThe information on the value of these monthly invoices was not provided to the newspaper, with the false excuse that “they are not public data”. Furthermore, in June they assured that “the invoices were still being processed”, despite the fact that up to two monthly payments had already been made. Now we know that the cost to the public purse exceeds 700,000 euros per month.
For Más Madrid’s culture spokesperson in the Assembly, Jazmín Beirak, this is “a failure in the planning of the management of public resources” and a coda to the phenomenon of a public theatre exploited by a private company. “The most serious thing is that there is no public theatre project. It doesn’t matter Clece or Salzillo, because they are companies that are going to exploit a resource. It is a lost opportunity to carry out a public theatre project,” he adds. He also points out the lack of independence caused by the fact that the artistic direction and programming is handed over by hand and not by public tender. “There are examples that show that public competitions enrich the direction of the centers,” says Beirak in reference to the director of Teatros del Canal Blanca Li, appointed by Rivera de la Cruz without following a code of good practice.
The new contract allows the artistic direction of the Teatros del Canal to recover the integrity of the programming. For eleven years it was Clece who was responsible for the productions five months a year. Now Marta Rivera de la Cruz recovers the programming, but has not awarded a new budget, that is to say, with the money that was previously used to create the line-up for six months (those managed by the Community) will now be used for eleven. The alarming growth in the average price of admission to the public center has not been long in coming: for the premiere of Pina Bausch in September only two rows are priced at 9 euros, the rest (more than 25 rows) from 25 to 40 euros.