2016 the project becomes reality



More than one million people have visited the building during its inaugural year. One in every five visitors participates in the cultural programme.

Tabakalera has competed its first full year and it is now time to take stock of events. What was a fledgling project a year ago is now a reality, and continues to grow every day. The day to day life of the building is testament to this reality and is backed up by the numbers. During 2016 more than one million people have visited Tabakalera, with an average of 19,000 people on a weekly basis. We can therefore say with confidence that Tabakalera has received a very favourable welcome from the local people.

Tabakalera faced various challenges at the start of the year, amongst which was understanding how the new spaces would work, attracting audiences and building loyalty, communicating what Tabakalera is all about, and managing the relationships between the members who make up the building’s ecosystem. New criteria also had to be set for holding private events, optimising their management, and establishing them as a funding source. This aim has been met during 2016 with 112 private events having been held. One year on we are still working on some of these challenges and will continue to do so in the future. That said, we can make a very positive assessment of what has been achieved to date. Without glossing over our mistakes, of course.

Tabakalera has already become a benchmark for both locals and visitors. It is fully integrated into the life of many Donostians and has become an unmissable visit for those who come from other places. We should also highlight the citizenry’s use of the building as a public space, beyond the cultural project and the initiatives which comprise the building’s cultural ecosystem. Tabakalera has become a new meeting place for people of diverse ages, origins and backgrounds. People have no reservations about using the building’s spaces for various activities. At Tabakalera we also place significant value on the step that some of this audience takes from an unplanned visit to gradually getting closer to the programmes and services offered by the centre. The proof of this is that one in five visitors who come to Tabakalera take part in one of the activities on offer, and that more than 8000 people already have their Tabakalera card. Tabakalera is also making its mark in the international culture sector, with more and more agents and creators getting to know us (the response received by the last call for residencies is testament to this).



Throughout this year the building’s spaces have been filling up with the incorporation and launch of various services and projects. In terms of the cultural project – which was already partly up and running – the mediation room and the creators’ space have been established. One of the fundamental milestones of the year has been the opening of the Ubik creation library.

The launch of Ubik gave a new dimension to Tabakalera. What was initially a novel concept and a new challenge has received an astonishing reception by the local people. An average of 3,300 people have passed through Ubik every week since its opening, and this figure continues to rise. Ubik offers unique space and services, and its launch was a qualitative leap for Tabakalera.

With regards to the other institutions which make up the building’s cultural ecosystem, this year Kutxa has incorporated its Kutxa Kultur enea project and the spaces and rooms linked to fashion and music, as well as the Kutxa Kultur Kluba concert hall. The Basque Film Archive and the San Sebastián Film Festival have both this year strengthened their presence in the building, and along with the Tabakalera cultural project these two institutions launched the second cinema hall (on the second floor). The area called Space 1 on the first floor also came to life thanks mainly to DSS2016, which has taken forward various projects and exhibitions in the space itself. In terms of private initiatives, various spaces that were unused at the start of the year are now up and running, such as the Impact Hub Donostia (third floor), and Basque Living and Taba, both in the Tabakalera’s access hall.

Time and the sharing of space have also encouraged the strengthening of synergies between the agents which make up Tabakalera’s ecosystem, and projects have been taken forward jointly with the Basque Film Archive, the San Sebastián Film Festival and the Etxepare Basque Institute.



Our assessment of the cultural project is very positive.

The general assessment of the core strategies launched is also positive. We have supplemented existing projects and filled creative holes.

Both the building itself and the Tabakalera project are living organisms which evolve and force us to keep on adapting our own movements. This is how we view the cultural project. It is a changeable entity which will therefore need a longer period in existence before being able to measure its real impact.



Five exhibitions were launched in our space during 2016. The projects have been distinct in terms of their nature and type. We have worked with nine top-level local and international curators, and we have exhibited the productions and works of more than forty artists working in diverse disciplines and formats. We must also mention the international agents who have joined with us in the wide-reaching activity programmes linked to the exhibitions, in order to fully acknowledge the network which we have created throughout this first year. In our capacity as an international arts centre we have collaborated with many other arts institutions and centres, and in doing so have strengthened our international standing.

The five exhibitions mentioned have received a total of 65,000 visitors.

In addition to the exhibition hall, we have also used the remaining spaces within the building to host other exhibitions, as is the case with the hall on the second floor. In doing so we have developed the exhibition programme carried out in collaboration with the Polish Institute of Madrid and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, which is titled "Meeting of the Project Rooms". During this project we have exhibited new works by three Polish artists. To round off the year, this space hosts the "Joan-Etorriak" initiative organised in collaboration between DSS2016 and the Etxepare Basque Institute.



The key theme in Tabakalera, and one which cuts across all aspects of our work, is the importance that we give to learning, reflection and discussion. The aim of the public programmes is to encourage reflection and discussion through a series of related activities, whether workshops, seminars, presentations, screenings or talks.

The backbone of the public programmes this year has been the "Stimulants" project. The aim of this project is a two-year reflection on our society and to generate knowledge and discussion, using modern stimulants as a starting point. We have developed various programmes under its umbrella and the project will continue in the coming year, with the first exhibition of 2017 being dedicated to this theme.

In response to the objectives of the public programmes we have organised a number of activities and programmes, some of which have been taken forward by Tabakalera and others in collaboration with other agents: "City and other policies", "ALF Architecture: film languages", "LaPublika" (with consonni and DSS2016), the "Listening Observatory" (with DSS2016), and the research call "Europe. future past" (with DSS2016), amongst others. The special summer programme "UD-AH!" was a different approach. During July, August and September a diverse programme of activities was organised on the rooftop terrace from Thursdays through to Sundays.



One of the Tabakalera’s aims in 2016 with respect to the cinema was to launch and establish a consistent Wednesday to Sunday programme together with Donostia Kultura and the Basque Film Archive. We have also managed to bring alive a concept that reaches beyond the cinema itself. What makes this space special is not just the screenings but that these are always complemented with a programme of training and creative resources, including workshops, master classes and conferences with expert professionals, practical workshops that provide an opportunity for developing creative projects, and more.

Tabakalera’s programme is a complement to a city and a region where cinema and the audiovisual is so important. In this respect, during the months in which the cinema programme has been up and running we have started to build loyal audiences and create a small community.

In total during 2016 we have sold 263 passes and have welcomed 17,000 spectators.



The mediation area is perhaps a less visible part of the cultural project. That said, this silent work is of vital importance to Tabakalera. The mediation area is the access point to Tabakalera for many people and diverse audiences. Highlights of our work in this regard are the networks created with the education community and the work developed to bring young people into Tabakalera, with programmes such as "Hiria Hackeatu" and "Zoom", and in particular the "Kamaleoiak gara!" programme aimed at family audiences.

This year has seen the consolidation of programmes and projects which started up last year and the strengthening of some associations, as is the case with the work linked to teacher training. Tabakalera's mediation area has also become part of national and international networks, and its way of working has turned it into an exemplar in some respects.



The creators’ space has been a key part of the Tabakalera project since the beginning, and this year both the space and its resources have been completed and bolstered. The 1000-square-metre facility has ten work studios, a space for taking forward the programme, a set and four audio and video editing booths.

The calls for proposals are a vehicle for internationalising Tabakalera at the same time as strengthening the local artistic scene by encouraging diversity of disciplines, cross-cutting practices, collaborative work and production processes. In 2016 a total of 423 requests from local, national and international artists and cultural agents have been received in response to the calls. We have hosted 65 artists in both residencies and through the loan of spaces and resources.

The creators’ space also offers a programme of activities with the aim of supporting artist professionalisation.



In addition to maintaining the community already created during previous years, the aim this year in Hirikilabs has been to diversify the profiles of the people visiting the laboratory. We can confirm that this aim has been met, since people from all backgrounds are taking part in the different programmes offered by the laboratory.

Activities aimed at different audiences have been included in the programme in order to achieve this aim: families, young people and school children, the general public and specific communities (mainly those related to technology). People have gradually started to understand what a people's laboratory is and the extent to which a centre like Tabakalera encourages open learning. There are currently more than 1000 people in the community linked to Hirikilabs.

In addition, the laboratory model has become a format to be replicated in various settings such as education, libraries and businesses.




Tabakalera's creation library, Ubik, opened its doors in March. Despite not yet being a year old, Ubik's launch has already had a significant impact throughout the building. This library's novel and unique programme has received an astonishing welcome by the citizenry, evidenced by the fact that its community of users is growing from week to week.

It has welcomed 133,000 visitors during its nine months in operation. These are people of all ages and backgrounds, and many of them have become regular users. Ubik's programme is such that almost everyone can find something of interest there.





We have completed a cycle of just over a year which has involved doing many things for the first time. Having learned from these experiences, we excitedly face this second cycle during which we still have much to do and much to improve upon. The general aim for 2017 is to maintain the programme and strengthen our core strategies; we want to improve the programmes that are already up and running and devote more attention, time and care to them.


Along with all the agents across the city and the region, we must reposition ourselves following the end of DSS2016. It has been a very intense year in terms of organising programmes, and in 2017 we will all be responsible for generating the programmes, projects and services which satisfy audiences and agents.



We continue to support new creation and bringing the discussion of contemporary art closer to society whilst working in international networks. For 2017 we anticipate three exhibition seasons with four exhibitions, two of which will be in collaboration with other institutions: Witte de With in Rotterdam and the Fundació Miró in Barcelona. The public programmes will be a vehicle for digging deeper into themes which interest everyone, accompanied by the mediation programme.


We will continue to make spatial interventions with the intention of bringing visual culture to the factory space, whether through collaborations with institutions such as the Jeu de Paume or through invitations to local artists.


Public programmes

In 2017 the main lines of work launched this year will be maintained. The "Stimulants" project will continue its run and this year will also include an exhibition. The programme threads linked to architecture and urbanism will also be maintained, and in summer we will repeat the "UD-HA!" experience.


Audiovisual programmes

The cinema programme will also be maintained and will follow the direction taken to date. The strategic programmes "EIECine" and "Ikusmira Berriak" will be strengthened with small but significant changes. Continuing with the internationalisation strategy, we will join the European project ON&FOR, a production platform for audiovisual works.



We will continue with the same core strategies and will strengthen programmes such as "Kamaleoiak Gara!", which has already become a classic.

One of the calls for residencies shall be geared towards a mediation project through which we will work on the use of the Tabakalera's space itself.


Creators’ space

As well as strengthening the residencies, we want to dedicate more time to each of the resident artists and permanently launch the full training programme for artists, curators and other cultural agents. Up to now we have focussed on curation with its corresponding publication, but we will broaden the thinking area to make it a little more general. We propose a six-week intensive training format over summer.



With the disappearance of the direct member DSS2016 we will have to adapt to the new reality whilst maintaining the core strategies which have characterised the laboratory. We will also work with Ubik so that they can take on another phase of induction and thus be able to specialise more in Hirikilabs. Another element that we will strengthen is the development of public space projects.


Ubik - creation library

To be able to provide good service to users, we need to open the space for more hours. This is the main objective. We will also keep working on programme threads which facilitate the discovery of the library’s content. We will work on the relationship with the other areas to carry out the induction into the other themes of the cultural project. Finally, we will continue to make purchases and feed the collection with current content linked to contemporary culture.

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