Solidarity Park is a socio-cultural project involving the community and linked to the memorial dedicated to the memory of 60 International Brigaders who died when the Ciudad de Barcelona, the ship bringing them to Spain, was torpedoed and sank off the coast near Malgrat de Mar on 30 May 1937.
This site is intended to be an annual international meeting point that reclaims the values of the International Brigades through art, education and memory. A meeting point around the memorial monument that has been taking shape since 2017, a collective and collaborative endeavour involving over 1,000 people.
1.1 THE VALUES OF THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES
The Spanish Civil War, aka the Spanish War, was an unequal fight in which the only support the Spanish Republic received in terms of international forces was from people who voluntarily enlisted to fight against fascism in the International Brigades (IBs).
The IB battalions comprised 59,380 people, mainly men, with 54 different nationalities, diverse languages, races, and backgrounds, who were grouped together by countries and political ideas. They shared the values of solidarity, liberty, equality, solidarity, progress and community, which they saw threatened in a Spanish Republic that stood alone following the coup launched by the so-called National Army, which was backed by the German Nazis and Italian fascists.
1.2 THE SINKING OF THE CIUDAD DE BARCELONA
On 30 May 1937, the former cruise ship Ciudad de Barcelona was heading for Barcelona with some 200 International Brigaders on board, along with some military vehicles and food supplies. But around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the people of Malgrat de Mar were alerted by a huge explosion. An Italian submarine, the Torricelli, renamed the General Sanjurjo, had torpedoed the Ciudad de Barcelona. Surviving brigaders recalled how a group of men still on board were singing the Internationale as the ship sank. The speedy reaction of Malgrat’s inhabitants and those of nearby towns and villages enabled many brigaders and members of the ship’s crew to be rescued. The men and women of Malgrat welcomed and helped the brigaders, on their way to defend the Republic, for a week or so. This act of solidarity was cloaked in silence under Franco but did not fade from the memories of the survivors or the people of Malgrat, as is shown in the many documents and accounts that have been found.
1.3 SOLIDARITY PARK PROJECT TIMELINE
2012 75th Anniversary
The Malgrat Archives organise the events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the Ciudad de Barcelona. Relatives and former brigaders come over. It receives a lot of media coverage.
2016 Rob MacDonald
The British sculptor Rob MacDonald presents the Solidarity Park Memorial Project to Malgrat City Council. The first crowdfunding campaign is launched to buy the stone.
2017 Street sculpture
Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, Rob buys the stone and starts to make the sculptures with the help of the general public.
The City Council assigns the land for building the memorial.
2018 Art and Education
The first 30 brigaders go on display along with works inspired by the project and created by Catalan, German and Australian secondary school students.
2020 1st Solidarity Park Festival.
The idea was to organise a festival at the memorial site but, due to Covid-19, the on-site festival turned into the 1st online Solidarity Park Festival. Some 20 international artists take part and it lasts two hours.
2021 2nd Solidarity Park Festival.
Solidarity Park continues to grow. We hold the second online festival. Over 100 artists from all over the world take part.
Installing the memorial
In November work begins on the foundations for installing the monument.
2022 85th Anniversary. Inauguration.
The inauguration of the Solidarity Park monumental complex is planned for the end of May, to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the sinking. Taking advantage of these two events, we are organising the 3rd Solidarity Park Festival in person, with concerts, exhibitions and cultural activities.
2.1 SOLIDARITY PARK
In the course of the 75th anniversary of the Ciudad de Barcelona’s sinking Rob McDonald, a British sculptor, discovered that one of the brigaders who died had the same name as him. A coincidence that sparked his curiosity and led him to delve further into the events of 30 May, 1937. Imagine his surprise when he found out that many brigaders died singing the Internationale on board the sinking ship! This inspired Rob to create Solidarity Park, a memory space to reclaim the values of solidarity, liberty and equality the brigaders who died singing defended.
Solidarity Park is on the beach at Malgrat, opposite the spot where the Ciudad de Barcelona sank The sculpture comprises 60 brigader figures, sculpted out of stone and some 50 cm high, all singing the Internationale with their clenched fist raised. They are on a ship carved out of the same stone with 15 portholes that will gradually be added as they are created by students participating in the educational project. The ship is sailing over a map of the world, symbolising the diversity of the brigaders’ backgrounds and solidarity between peoples around the globe.
2.2 SOLIDARITY PARK FESTIVAL
Involvement and participation in building the monument has gone beyond sculpture. Art in its various facets has become common ground for building and sharing common identities around the values and symbol implied by Solidarity Park. The plan was to lay the first stone of the monument in May 2020, and to mark the occasion we were counting on the presence of a number of local and international artists linked to the project. Unfortunately, Covid-19 meant the format had to be changed and forced us to hold the 1st Solidarity Park Festival (SPF) online. The call put out on social media for international and local artists who wanted to take part bore fruit and some 20 performing artists and musicians did so. In 2021 the festival grew exponentially and nearly 100 people took part in the 2nd Solidarity Park Festival altruistically, expanding the artistic disciplines to dance, theatre and video art. During a weekend around 30 May, the Solidarity Park Festival is intended to be a meeting point for all those people who would like to take part and be involved in one of the three themes that make up the project: memory, art and education.
3.1 Solidarity Park in the secondary schools
From the outset it was clear to us that historical memory has to be reclaimed through education, involving both teachers and students, and raising awareness of the human values behind the sinking of the Ciudad de Barcelona. Nowra High School (Australia), Herder Gymnasium Cologne (Germany), Institut Escola Lloret de Mar and IES Ramón Turró (Catalonia) are the secondary schools where Solidarity Park has been present during the last five years, raising awareness of the project through artistic activities organised jointly by history and visual arts teachers to create the ship’s portholes, which will be replaced over time with new designs created by students, thus making the memorial a living work. Besides this school involvement and cooperation, some teachers have come up with and developed ideas of their own, such as illustrated diaries of the brigaders, installations, found art, stencils, graffiti, escape-room activities, and so on.
3.2 Teacher’s dossier
More than a hundred students have now come up with their designs, based on what the brigaders’ stories suggested to them In the last few years many groups have also researched the stories of individual brigaders on board the Ciudad de Barcelona and produced videos and podcasts in Catalan and English explaining who they were, what motivated them and the context of their era. This year a teacher’s dossier has been produced that includes the educational experiences designed by teachers at IES Lloret de Mar and Institut Ramon Turró in Malgrat de Mar, in collaboration with Conny Dahmen (Germany), and Lorraine Yeomans (Australia). The aim of the teaching unit in the dossier is for students to start to discover the history of the Ciudad de Barcelona and, from that, find out what the International Brigades were, learn more about the role played by the various European and world powers in the Civil War and find similarities with present-day conflicts At a time when fascism in all its guises is on the increase around the world, it is more necessary than ever to think about the past and maintain an ongoing dialogue with the present in the classroom.
4 WORKING PLAN FOR 2022
4.1 OBJECTIVES FOR 2022
To inaugurate Solidarity Park – the main milestone of the year. After five-year wait we will be able to see the memorial in place. And we want to celebrate that!
3rd Solidarity Park Festival
To consolidate the Solidarity Park Festival, taking advantage of the commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the sinking of the Ciudad de Barcelona
To get more schools to join the educational project by publicising the teaching dossier among teachers to broaden the network of students involved.
4.2 SCHEDULE FOR 2022
Presentation of the 2022 Project to the City Council. Receipt of 3rd Solidarity Park Festival proposals. Close of 2021. First brigader figures put in place.
Solidarity Park Association General Assembly. Select from the suggestions received for the 3rd Solidarity Park Festival. Close the budget
Presentation of the 3rd SP Festival programme and poster. Receipt of the 2021 grant. Organisation of the festival logistics.
Final stage of installing the Solidarity Park memorial. General Assembly of the Association and participants in the 3rd Solidarity Park Festival. Draft the festival production guidelines.
3rd Solidarity Park Festival. Inauguration of the Solidarity Park memorial. Hold programmed activities. Online Solidarity Park Festival.
General assembly to assess the festival. Compiling data. 2022 subsidies. Holidays. Occasional meetings of the Weekly Team.
School presentations of the teaching dossier. Collaboration with other organisations. General meeting to present proposals for the 4th Solidarity Park Festival.
Finalisation of the 2022 Dossier with festival data. Educational activities in schools. Participate in International Brigades Memorial activities in Barcelona.
Weekly Team annual meeting. Start drafting the 2023 Dossier. Ongoing teaching and collaborative activities.
General meeting to present the Solidarity Park Association 2023 Project. Closure of the 2022 accounts.
The Weekly Team runs the organisation, acting as its executive committee. It currently has five members who are responsible for organising the three areas of work: Project coordination Production and funding Internal and external communication The Weekly Team is so named because it meets weekly to gradually carry out all the actions envisaged in the Association’s Annual Working Plan.
TEAM OF COLLABORATORS
During the last five years, Solidarity Park has gradually knitted together a network of collaborators spread over the five continents. Thanks to their participation we can set up working groups to carry out tasks such as interpreting and translation, drafting the Teacher’s Dossier, organising the Solidarity Park Festival, communication and funding.
All the members – people and organisations – are members of the organisation’s general assembly which meets at least twice a year. It is the general assembly that decides the content of the Annual Activities Plan managed by the Weekly Team and the Team of Collaborators. The general assembly also chooses the legal representatives of the association’s Executive Committee. The executive committee is currently formed by the members of the Weekly Team.
4.4 WEEKLY TEAM
Sculptor and founder of Solidarity Park.
Multidisciplinary artist and social activist. Teaches creativity and communication in English.
Coordinator and technician.
Musician, sound and multimedia engineer, concert organiser and multidisciplinary artist.
Coordinator and producer
Actress, teacher, cultural manager, international cooperator, historical memory and performing arts researcher.
Translator and language teacher
Translates from Catalan and Spanish to English and teaches general and business English. Lived in Catalonia for 26 years. Interests include historical memory.
PACO MÁRQUEZ CARVAJAL
Coordinator and producer
Theatre director, playwright, social integrator specialising in community theatre and psychodrama.
4.5 3rd SOLIDARITY PARK FESTIVAL
The 3rd Solidarity Park Festival. This year marks a turning point in the project. The memorial inauguration combined with the 85th anniversary of the sinking of the Ciudad de Barcelona provides the ideal setting for making the Solidarity Park Festival more widely known. This will be the first live edition and the third online. The main attraction: the inauguration of the memorial on Sunday where all the guest choirs* will be singing together after their performances in different parts of Malgrat on Saturday before the guided tour of Civil War sights in the city and a historical memory fair by the Torre de la Viuda Sala (Widow Sala Tower). But the weekend’s events start on Friday with the official welcome and the subsequent inauguration of the two exhibitions that are planned.
11.00 Official Welcome. 12.00 Meeting Students and Families. 17.00 Inauguration Exhibitions. 17.30 Talk. 19.00 Book presentation.
9.00 Civil War Fair. 10.00 1st CW Guided Tour. 12.00 2nd CW Guided Tour. 17.00 Choir Concert. 20.00 Festival Supper. 21.00 Concert.
INAUGURATION 11.00 Welcome. Speeches –public authorities, families, Rob. 12.00 Choir Concert. 12.30 Close. 14.00 Final Lunch. 17.00 Close of the 3rd Solidarity Park Festival. 17.30 Online Festival.
Memorial Space for the families
1st STAGE: Presentation and approval of the 2022 SPF Project: activities, schedule, times, spaces, budget, working plan. 2nd STAGE: Organisation and presentation of the 2022 SPF: closure of the programme, list of in-person and online participants, drafting of the technical production guidelines, official presentation of the programme to the press. 3rd STAGE: Celebration of the SPF: welcome the participants, coordinate and carry out the 3rd SPF programme. 4th STAGE: Evaluation of the SPF: final assessment and evaluation, closure of the budget, suggestions and proposals for next year. 5th STAGE: Communication Plan: design for the SPF image, dissemination, distribution, merchandising and media.
Total Solidarity Park Expenditure in 2022 amounts to €14,730. The main cost stems from producing the events around the memorial inauguration and the 3rd Solidarity Park Festival. Direct expenditure by Malgrat City Council amounts to €6,550. That includes paying for sound equipment, talks and the exhibitions. The Solidarity Park Association’s share of total expenditure is €8,180. That comprises items mainly concerned with production, administration and communication of the project. Almost 50% of the contributions to cover this expenditure comes from the Public Administration in the form of subsidies. The other 50% comes from direct contributions from the Association based on membership fees, sponsorship and crowdfunding. Balancing income and expenditure.
Amical de les Brigades Internacionals de Catalunya.
Amical – Association of Friends of the International Brigades in Catalonia – is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to recover the historical memory of the International Brigades in Catalonia. From the outset, Amical has given Solidarity Park its backing and support. In 2021 we were able to apply for Barcelona Provincial Council and Generalitat Democratic Memorial grants thanks to the fiscal, legal and administrative cover Amical provided. Besides this legal cover, Amical made significant donations to the project in 2021 that enabled us to go ahead with the activities scheduled for May and October. Without doubt, Amical is one of the project’s main collaborating organisations and it has become a key piece in enabling us to maintain local and international contacts with other historical memory recovery organisations around the International Brigades. So, we would like to thank them for their collaboration and confidence in the Solidarity Park project.
Malgrat de Mar City Council – Municipal Archives.
Malgrat de Mar City Council and the Municipal Archives in particular are the public administration bodies that have been most involved in the project. Accordingly, the Municipal Archives are the institutional co-organiser of the Solidarity Park Festival, without whose contribution in terms of both financial and human resources the monument project would never have been able to go ahead.
The City Council has been responsible for assigning and preparing the site where the memorial to the brigaders who died on the Ciudad de Barcelona is being built.
The people involved in the project have been working with the local authority for five years now and we are proud to say that, despite the differences that may have arisen between the different governing teams during this time, all the political opinions represented in the City Council have believed in the memorial, had the political will to go ahead with it and made an effort to ensure it can be inaugurated in May 2022. They have played a key part and we would like to thank them very much for their collaboration and the confidence they have shown in the Solidarity Park project.
Barcelona Province Council – Democratic Memory.
Thanks to the tax cover provided by Amical de les Brigades Internacionals, in 2021 we were able to apply for a Barcelona Provincial Council Democratic Memory Programme grant. The Solidarity Park project was one of those selected to receive public funding from the Provincial Council. As its Historical Memory Programme website states: “This programme offers support to the actions and activities carried out by local authorities in relation to Democratic Memory, as well as to those non-profit organisations specialising in this matter. The range of actions embraces recovering historical memory of events during the Second Republic, the Civil War and the Dictatorship; recognition and reparations for victims of the Civil War and Francoist repression; vindication of the events, persons and values of the anti-Francoist struggle; and dignifying public space with commemorative features and other elements for disseminating and recovering memory heritage through the museification of public space
La Voz Ahogada – Projecte escènic
La Voz Ahogada has been behind Solidarity Park from the word go. Una nueva primavera (A New Spring), a play produced by this theatre company, is the link between these two projects both of which believe in recovering historical memory through art. The sinking of the Ciudad de Barcelona features in Una nueva primavera as another episode in the story of the International Brigades staged by Mireia Clemente and Ivan Campillo. La Voz Ahogada (The Silenced Voice) is a stage project that arose with the aim of staging drama on the recovery of historical memory. As a result of this link, close collaboration has been established with Solidarity Park. Recently Townsend Productions, an English community theatre company, got in touch with the Solidarity Park project and thanks to that, Townsend have initiated a joint production with La Voz Ahogada which will see the light of day in 2023 at the 4th Solidarity Park Festival.
El Rovell – Ateneu Popular:
El Rovell is Malgrat de Mar’s ateneu popular, that is, a socio-cultural meeting place, in El Rovell’s case an anti-fascist one. This non-profit entity has become Solidarity Park’s unofficial HQ, where meetings, exhibitions and other activities linked to the SP project have been held. It is also the place where all the documents, art works and other material that has been created and for which there is no room at the Malgrat Municipal Archives will be stored.