Ministry studies “possible solutions” for Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova in Coimbra

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The Ministry of Culture said today that it is “analyzing possible solutions” for the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, in Coimbra, a central space for the Anozero biennial and which is in the process of being transformed into a hotel.

The Ministry of Culture “is analyzing the possible solutions, within the framework of the limitations arising from the commitments already made,” an official source from Dalila Rodrigues’ office told Lusa in a written response, when asked if the current government was willing to review the process.

“Since the current government took office on April 2, the Minister of Culture has been in contact with the director of the Biennale, as well as with the Minister of Economy, as it is recognized that the Anozero Biennale harmoniously reconciles with the historical-artistic components of the monument, despite the need for its rehabilitation,” said a source from the Ministry.

On April 10, Turismo de Portugal confirmed that Soft Time had won the public tender for the concession and transformation into a five-star hotel of the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, the central space for the programming of Coimbra’s contemporary art biennial Anozero, which has already admitted that, with the conditions laid down in that process, it could end.

In its response, the government regretted that in the transition process there was “no reference to the Anozero biennial, which makes it clear that, for the previous executive, this situation was irreversible”.

Dalila Rodrigues’ office recalls that it was the previous government, led by the PS, that decided to turn the Monastery into a hotel, under Revive (a program for the transformation and requalification of state-owned assets), “compromising the possibility of the Anozero biennial continuing in that space, under the conditions that its organization advocates”.

On April 10, Turismo de Portugal announced that the pre-contractual phase of the Revive tender, which envisaged the transformation of a built-up area of around 13,000 square meters into a five-star hotel, with a concession period of 50 years, had been closed.

There were two bids in the public procedure, but the company that came first withdrew from the process and Soft Time was subsequently contacted.

On the same day as the announcement, the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC), the organization that co-organizes and produces Anozero, said that the conditions were “met” for the biennial to end, given the progress of the process.

On Monday, the mayor of Coimbra, José Manuel Silva, said that the monument “cannot continue to deteriorate as it has been doing”, but admitted that the municipality would be willing to consider “all hypotheses that bring associated investment”.

“If someone can get public investment to restore the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova and turn it into another destination, namely for the biennial, we’ll be happy to do it,” he said.

Also on Monday, hundreds of people, including cultural agents, the public and professionals in the field, signed an open letter (https://tinyurl.com/BienalNoMosteiro) addressed to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Economy and the Mayor of Coimbra defending the Anozero biennial at the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova.

“We, the makers and the public, demand a solution, built through dialogue, that will allow the Anozero biennial to solidify the relationship between art and the life of this city from this space,” the letter stresses, arguing that conditions “that allow the development and deepening” of the biennial in that space should be considered.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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