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Instituto Cervantes chooses Malaga to outline its future

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Directors, ministers and guests in front of the Tabacalera building in Malaga on Monday. / Fernando González

  • Queen Letizia presided over the opening on Monday of the annual directors' meeting of Spain's flagship international cultural and educational organisation

Queen Letizia was on the Costa del Sol on Monday morning to preside over the opening of the annual meeting of directors of the Instituto Cervantes, which took place in Malaga’s Tabacalera building.

The Instituto Cervantes, a worldwide non-profit government agency, is the largest organisation in the world responsible for promoting the study and the teaching of Spanish language and culture.

The queen, who didn’t speak officially, was present to get the annual meeting under way. The gathering aimed to agree the organisation’s plan for the forthcoming year.

Monday’s agenda began with a debate on the ambitious “culture shock plan” proposed by the organisation’s director, Juan Manuel Bonet.

Other topics that were discussed include the opening of new centres in Seoul (South Korea), Dakar (Senegal) and Zurich (Switzerland), as well as commemorations for Miguel Hernández, Azorín and Francisco Nieva, among other authors.

In addition, the medium term aim for the institute of extending its presence across the United States with new delegations in California and Washington was addressed.

According to Bonet, “[Promoting] better quality culture needs more money. We hope to see an increase in funds from the state and greater spending power.” Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis, also attending the first day, recognised this need and promised an increase pending negotiations with the “the guardian of the money”, Treasury minister, Cristóbal Montoro.

The event, which ran until Thursday, had the city’s Russian museum (where Monday’s inauguration took place) and the Centre Pompidou as its official venues and included visits to the Picasso museum, the Museum of Malaga and the Antequera dolmens.

“Be in no doubt,” Bonet said, “Our directors will go home as ambassadors for the city.”

This came as good news to the city’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, who said: “Directors at the Insitituto Cervantes are opinion formers, builders of the Spanish brand, and we want Malaga to be part of that.”

Provincial head, Elías Bendodo, stressed the province’s role as one of the leaders in language tourism, with 30,000 students a year coming to Malaga to learn Spanish across the 23 centres accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, half the number in the whole of Andalucía.