The Palau de la Música is a ‘pressure cooker’

VALENCIA. The Palau de la Música is cushioning the umpteenth earthquake in recent years, the resignation of Rafael Sanz-Espert, director of the Municipal Band until last Thursday, repudiated by the formation, which came to formally request his dismissal from the Councilor for Culture, Gloria Tello, and the Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó. Neither the Band nor the City Council have wanted to assess the fact, although they consider the conflict settled. Now a new process is opening, that of the search, at first, for an interim address through a service commission and, later, in a position that will be convened as one more opposition.

Last week there was also a meeting of the Palau staff, and although it has not materialized, it has transpired that a possible day of strike by the Valencia Orchestra may have been considered. So, without having expelled the dust from last week’s earthquake, the Palau is preparing so that this week there will be no other. And although, in a literal sense, the foundations of the Palau are being reformed at a good pace, in a figurative sense, the relationship with the staff, in all its sections, continues to suffer due to the accumulation of those media earthquakes.

It was in July the penultimate time that the squad stood up before the Department of Culture and the Palau management. Tello, in the last meeting to finalize the bases of the stabilization process of 22 places in the Municipal Autonomous Organization of the Palau de la Música, decided to stop the process, something that the staff understood as a “full break”. Only Tello’s signature was missing, and all the requested reports, as this newspaper published, endorsed the agreement reached. However, Culture insists that the conditions will be the same as the rest of the Consistory civil servants, despite the fact that these 22 places are those of an OAM.

This happened in July, it fired up the squad, and since the publication that Tello’s criteria contradicts reports, nothing has been advanced, nothing has been undone. This matter could cause serious problems with the staff, since the stabilization processes started this year, thanks to the Iceta Law, have been read as the moment of the great transformation of public employment, and many of the staff are making a great effort because so be it in their workplaces. The places that are at stake are a total of 22. Among them, some musical position and several room technicians. The administrative part would be a minority of these.

The small victory (but not definitive) of the Band

The definitive rupture of the Municipal Band with its director, Rafael Sanz-Espert, has occurred as a result of a profound conflict that the formation has also had with the City Council in labor matters. The consistory decided to “reorganize” the staff and proposed incorporating the Band into the organization chart of the OAM of the Palau de la Música, when these were civil servants of the City Council.

The Municipal Band refused, arguing that the City Council’s plans would end up “dismantling” the formation and that their labor rights would be diminished. Tello, for his part, defended the process tooth and nail because “His reasons are the result of ignorance”, referring to the fact that their rights would not be diminished. The Band mobilized with various protests and strikesand although the City Council has still not admitted that it is not the best option, in March they decided “paralyze” the process because “they never want to be against the Band”; so until the completion of the Palau works and also the end of the stabilization processes, they have left the process in standby.

The Municipal Band, in a file photo. Photo: EVA RIPOLL

In any case, the Band continues to distrust the City Council, and above all, its director until days ago. A few days after the announcement of the freeze, the formation issued a statement in which he accused Sanz-Espert of “not knowing how to work as a team, not maintaining correct communication with its members and not maintaining a musical and management project that meets the needs of the group and of a city like Valencia”.

More recently, the Band also accused the City Council of being the cause of the cancellations of various band performances. The unions understood that the lack of job vacancies is the cause of the “laziness and lack of coordination” of Culture, and of the systemic lack of personnel. Tello, for his part, defended himself by explaining that it was “three casualties that occurred for reasons of health of three musicians” who, three days before the concert, “were impossible to cover”. The unions, incidentally, supported the director, recalling that “the director has not appeared in the rehearsal room since the celebration of the Contest of Bands in the month of July”.

The orchestra, worried

And the Orchestra, like other internal sources at the Palau, point to a certain concern, not because of specific issues, but because of the deterioration of the image of the institution, which has deepened with the closure of the building and the weakening of the relationship between the City Council and the workforce. They question how the Palau is going to come out of this series of events and controversies, and how much prestige it has earned is falling by the wayside.

The Palau de la Música is, right now, with all its fronts open, a pressure cooker. Not even the good progress of the works seems to be able to save a more than sensitive situation: that the staff is on a war footing and distrusts its managers. This week a new chapter may or may not open.

We would like to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this outstanding material

The Palau de la Música is a ‘pressure cooker’