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Formentera calls on Madrid to pick up tab for public servants' extra pay

Ple gener reduxMembers of the Formentera Council plenary assembly gathered today, a Friday, for the administration's first plenary session of 2018. At the centre of debate was a proposed bonus to level the playing field for public servants living in the islands.

The first such initiative, proposed by the People's Party (PP), called on the Council to create a dedicated fund for the bonuses using its own resources. The measure failed after it was rejected by majority party Gent per Formentera (GxF). The PSOE brought their own version of a similar proposal, which was scrapped as well.

Vanessa Parellada, secretary of social welfare, youth services and human resources affirmed both proposals were voted down because they would have put the Council on the hook for the financing the extra pay. “The isolation of Formentera from mainland Spain” [commonly referred to as the island's “triple insularity”] “affects the entire island”. “Any measure which improves the lot of one segment of the population by worsening another's” —referring to those who would pay for the fund— “would be illogical”. She said it would be like “forcing Formentera to foot the bill for the downsides of working on Formentera”.

GxF presented a measure supporting the so-called “insular bonus” on the condition the central government in Madrid supplied the funds to make it a reality. Parellada drew a parallel with residents' discounts on ferry tickets, reduced rubbish transport costs and all the other compensation that exists to remedy Formentera's insularity. “Victims of this insularity mustn't be obliged to also foot the bill”, she argued. The measure passed thanks to backing from GxF, though members of the other parties, PP, PSOE and Compromís, abstained.

Other measures
One measure that got cross-party support was a GxF proposal to join a pact with a Mallorca-based transport consortium for an integrated system of tariffs. Likewise, the assembly was united in giving the go-ahead to an expansion of low-voltage power lines serving Recó de la Llenya, sa Miranda and Can Simonet. “Yes” votes from GxF party members guaranteed the success of a move to block the findings of an impact study, piloted by a group called Plaça de Sant Ferran, of a plot in Sant Ferran. Thanks to backing from GxF and PP, and despite abstaining votes from PSOE and Compromís, definitive approval came for a detailed study of work on avinguda Joan Castelló Guasch. A proposal to standardise and regulate business hours and live entertainment was backed by GxF and Compromís members of the plenary, while other party representatives abstained. The fate of a PP proposal concerning standardising tourist holiday rentals at multi-family homes in urban areas was sealed by “no” votes from GxF and PSOE party members. Meanwhile unanimous backing was secured by a measure from socialists in the assembly to create signage at all pedestrian crossings in school zones across Sant Francesc.

Progress report
Councillor Susana Labrador, who took the floor to give a report on action in her departments, started by reminding plenary members that her function is to “promote and lead projects related to culture, heritage and education on the island within the standards of the administration's team of senior councillors”.

Labrador gave an overview of her offices' work in 2017. She focused on four efforts in particular:

Disinterment at the Sant Ferran cemetery last November, aimed at locating the remains of five individuals gunned down by pro-Franco forces during the Spanish Civil War. The victims were murdered on March 1, 1937 behind the cemetery walls.

The efforts were headed up by Fòrum per la Memòria d'Eivissa i Formentera and paid for by the Govern and Formentera Council.

Start of la Mola lighthouse remodel, an effort linked to a museographic project in the same space. Crews will equip the monument with an interpretive centre about local lighthouses, a museographic collection focussed on the island's maritime heritage and a multipurpose room for cultural events.

Building permit for Sant Ferran's primary and nursery schools. Thanks to painstaking efforts of the local departments of patrimony and land, the administration's flagship project appears closer than ever. Additional progress is due to the hard work of the Council's legal experts and Ibisec advisors, which made next month's tweaking of municipal regulations possible.

Lastly, the recently-opened reading space in Sant Ferran. Part of an effort to revitalise culture and leisure activities in town, the library outlet has three separate spaces: a section for adults, a kids' area and a computer lab with Internet access.

Fresh crop of courses for farm hands in training

Taller dagricultura per a infantsThe Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture reports that this Tuesday, February 1, registration will open for a series of workshops pitched as “agriculture for kids”. Enrolment will stay open to the start of classes or until no space remains. Even still, the office will put together a wait list for any children not enrolled by the deadline.

The workshops will begin Saturday, February 17 and continue in June when schools break for summer holidays.

Tuned for youngsters and intended as a vector for environmental education and personal and social development, the activity is also being seen as a tool to promote young peoples' connection to rural and traditional settings as well as respect and defence of nature.

Two separate groups will meet for two hours each on Saturday mornings. Kids four to six will meet from 10.00am to 12 noon while seven- to eleven-year-olds will have class from 12 noon until 2.00pm.

The workshops, envisioned for groups of no more than 15, will be led by two instructors at the Hort dels nens (“children's garden”) near Sant Francesc's sa Tanca Vella landmark. Shoes and clothing worn should be both comfortable and appropriate, and children are urged to bring a bottle of water.

Environment councillor Bartomeu Escandell said the decision to bring the workshops back was due to their success in previous years. The idea, he explained, is to “see that our young ones are not only familiar with, but also can take pleasure in, the field work that constitutes such a deeply-entrenched aspect of island life”. He described his department's mission “to reactivate the local countryside” as “a task that is guaranteed to continue in future generations if we start young”.

Formentera gives new students leg up with language support

Presentacio del projecte dacolliment linguisticDetails were released this morning about a “language assistance project” to ease new students' transition into a new linguistic environment. The presentation was led by social welfare secretary Vanessa Parellada and Maria Isabel Jiménez, a teacher.

Faced with comparatively poorer grades and higher rates of school failure among immigrant youth, a factor which poses an obstacle to the students' normal development in professional and social contexts, the administration's immigration offices hatched a plan. It included a “language assistance” workshop tuned to serving the needs specifically felt by such newcomers.

The interest in assistance
Unlike in years past, this year's programme, which begins February 5 and concludes when students break for summer, won't be aimed at specific year levels. Rather, it will be available to each and every recently-arrived pupil enrolled in primary and secondary education.

Programme coordinator Maria Isabel Jiménez called it “a resource to help pupils improve their reading, writing and oral comprehension of Catalan” while framing the goal as “to give newcomers the tools to do what's being asked of them in their classes”.

The challenge of the initiative will be to boost not only academic performance, but also social integration. According to Councillor Parellada, “better integration at the school level means improved integration overall for students' families”.

Classes will be tuned to meet the educational abilities of each pupil, and instructors will additionally focus on promoting work in groups, levelling the playing field for participating students and fomenting a positive reception of Catalan, the so-called “vehicular language” of schools in the Balearics.

Starting this Thursday, January 25, signups will be held Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 2.00pm at the head offices of Formentera social services: Vénda des Brolls, 53. Enrolment closes Thursday, February 1.

For more information, telephone 971 32 12 71 or contact rescolar@conselldeformentera.cat. The location of classes will be decided based on the number and needs of pupils who register.

L'Illa a Escena, an initiative touting local theatre acts, is back

cartell illa a escenaThe Formentera Council's Office of Culture presents L'Illa a Escena 2018, a lineup of performing arts and music acts ready to take the island by storm in the first half of the year. Roughly translated as “The Island on Stage”, L'Illa a Escena's offering of all-audiences shows aims to promote and foment culture on the island.

The island's cinema, the Sala de Cultura, will be the stage for a diverse smattering of artistic forms and styles stretching from theatre and dance to circus and entertainment for children.

First up, set to take place this Saturday, January 27, is the second Cantada Pagesa, brought to Formentera audiences by the traditional music wing of the island's Escola de Música i Dansa. More than a dozen singers, some new at the game and others seasoned veterans, will take the stage to interpret traditional Formentera songs of the glosat and redoblat forms.

The free concert begins Saturday at 8.30pm in the Sala de Cultura.

Next month, on the Institut d'Estudis Baleàrics-backed TalentIB circuit, Formentera will host “Abans que arribi l'alemany”, the first place winner of the region's second tournament of Catalan play-writing. Told from the perspective of a person recently diagnosed with Alzheimers, this adult show speaks to facing reality and adversities head on and an individual's right to arbiter decisions in his or her own life. How would you react? Could you handle it? How would you live with it afterwards?

Brought to the stage by the Produccions de Ferro theatre troupe, “Abans que arribi l'alemany” can be seen for two nights, Thursday the 8th and Friday the 9th, at la Mola's Casa del Poble. Admission is pay what you wish.

Opera fans will have something to talk about this February with “La Novena de Bethoven” (Beethoven's Ninth). Directed by Zubin Mehta and recorded at the Milan Cathedral, this extraordinary musical event took place on June 3, 2017 to mark the site's 650th anniversary.

The Sala de Cultura's screening of the show is set for Saturday, February 10 at 8.00pm. Admission is eight euros.

Also in February and still on the TalentIB circuit it's the perennial children's favourite, “Les Aventures de Gepetto i Pinotxo”. The company behind the show, La Fornal d'Espectacles, boasts 25 plus years of experience in culture and the performing arts. Carlo Collodi's 1881 classic unfolds in a tiny Italian village, where two old friends meet and decide to construct a puppet. Their creation, Pinotxo, will be the son Gepetto has always wanted. But, a born troublemaker, the little wooden boy will be anything but what his father had in mind. Assorted adventures ensue.

Tickets for the production, which hits Formentera's Sala de Cultura at 6.00pm on Saturday, February 17, are three euros.

At the end of the month, islanders can enjoy a recital of piano and Spanish music entitled “Evocación”. Performers at this world-class pairing of music and dance (composers include Albéniz, Falla and Granados) will dust off a style of concert rarely used today. “Evocación” is a performance by pianist, composer and Formentera chorus director Jose Jaime Hidalgo de la Torre and dancer and choreographer Nieves Portas. Both seasoned, world-class artists currently teach at Formentera's Escola de Música i Dansa.

The recital is scheduled for 8.30pm on Saturday, February 24 at the Sala de Cultura. Admission to the event is three euros.

The month starts out with a screening of “Moisés a Egipte”. This opera, which is based on the Israelites' exodus from Egypt under the guidance of Moses, has a romantic twist: the tenor voice, Amenofis, who is the son of the Pharaoh, plots to prevent the object of his affection, Israelite (and soprano) Anaïs, from departing.

The recording will be shown in the Sala de Cultura on Saturday, March 3 at 8.00pm. Admission is eight euros.

A week later, on March 10, it's “Els Mijorals de Don Mariano”, Eivissa troupe Es Molí's show for the whole family. Centred on the figure of Mariano Llobet, this traditionalist comedy recreates life in the Eivissa countryside for a family of mijorals in post-war 1950s.

Free to attend, this production will be at the Sala de Cultura on Saturday at 8.30pm.

Also in March, the island's theatre-going public will be treated to actress/creator Vicka Duran's “Domenica”. The tale of Lourdes, apart from a love story, is also one in which the emotional landscape is wrought by hope, frustration and pain. At the crux of the conflict is the difference between love in the physical and spiritual sense, as encapsulated by two words for love: estimar and voler. In Romance languages the two verbs represent a peculiar pair that, though expressing discrete concepts, are curiously often used synonymously.

For three euros, islanders can see “Domenica” at the Sala de Cultura on Saturday, March 17 at 8.30pm.

This April, a duo of works about poet/artist Blai Bonet come to Formentera at the hands of Tshock Cultura Emocional. "Oficis al carrer" is a stage production and "El teatre de Blai Bonet" is a documentary focussing on Bonet's status as a playwright.

Oficis al carrer” dates back to 1985, when it a student of the Escola Bisbe Verger in Santanyí wrote it as a year-end project. Today, 33 years later, the production has reunited the original cast, who will once again pay tribute to the town of Santanyí's unique trades of bygone times: the desaig, the tailor, the embroiderer, the escorxaribella, the knife sharpener, the rag-and-bone man.

Admission to the all-audiences show, which hits the Sala de Cultura on Saturday, April 14 at 8.30pm, is free.

For Formentera's younger crowds, Menorcan theatre group S'Espai de Circ presents "El Viatge d'en Filo Cordafil". In this fusion of circus, theatre and dance, Tall and his mates invite audiences along for a funny and fantastic journey during which all manner of objects morph into incredible characters. A surprising tale, full of fun, emotion and values, with a painstakingly well-groomed mise en scène that will lead us deep into a world rich in imagination.

When the show hits the island's Sala de Cultura on Sunday, April 15 at 5.30pm, tickets will be three euros.

Support for culture
L'Illa a Escena is made possible by TalentIB, a programme of the Institut d'Estudis Baleàrics to support the performing arts.

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