Manifesto in support of MediaLab Prado
Medialabs are a crucial element in societies, they foster innovation, participation and knowledge dissemination. MedialabPrado (Madrid) has proven to be a successful model and has been consequently recognized. A fundamental aspect of its success is its growing community of deeply engaged users, both in the local and global arena.
MediaLab-Prado was inspired by the new collaborative practices arising from digital networks, and has been able to answer two of the great challenges of our time: first, to shorten the distance between people and institutions, creating a style of close organization in which users feel included; and second, to connect and integrate different areas of knowledge and practitioners from the arts to technology, from academia to amateur, and from activist to hacker.
Currently, MediaLab-Prado is ready to evolve and adapt to changes, provided that it definitely has stable working conditions and the support of the City of Madrid. Following a move that altered its normal course of business, rumors about its future do not raise the morale of its staff and community, nor its image.
MediaLab-Prado has proven to be a learning organization that is able to adapt to new circumstances and to ‘do more with less’. But times of distress should end as soon as possible. After so much has been achieved, it would be an inexplicable waste for the city of Madrid to lose this space of innovation and acceptance of new and more radical forms of cultural artistic, technological and social expression.
You can change the building and change the people but it is impossible to transfer a project like MediaLab-Prado that has accumulated an unquantifiable capital. We want the City Council to reconsider the situation, and we offer six reasons why it should reaffirm its commitment to the most vibrant, inclusive and innovative cultural forms:
It is a project open to the participation of all citizens. This openness translates into work formats that offer various modes of involvement and transparent management of resources, programs and activities.
It is formed as a distributed network (no bosses, no centers, no leaders) that succeeds in welcoming very different and diverse active communities of users.
It functions as a breeding ground for the creation of alternative forms of economy that redistribute access to decent jobs and occupations at local and global scale, relying on practices based on collaboration, experimentation and criticism.
It encourages forms of self-organization and self-management based on the commons, and intends to challenge the need to build relationships with the private sector that go beyond merely cultural.
It is an organic organization that reflects on their own practices, incorporating those who use its facilities into the process, allowing constant learning and evolution.
As an open project, it has produced an innovative pedagogy that has inspired many initiatives, companies and governments to learn new ways of management closer to the production model that many authoritative thinkers predict for the near future. Medialab is an urban innovation engine in the city of Madrid.
The lack of transparency with which Telefónica has been holding talks with the city of Madrid clearly prevents us from assessing the scope of these decisions and how they affect the future of this project. Who is involved in the negotiations? What are the arguments? On what are they based? Under what criteria does the Madrid City Council measure profitability ? After months of uncertainty, it was recently published that Telefónica aims to manage the building to install a center for entrepreneurs, a ‘co-working’ space and an exhibition hall. We understand that Medialab Prado is already a collaborative workspace between citizens, institutions and companies that promotes entrepreneurship and the dissemination of various projects through exhibitions.
Medialab-Prado in its own projects such as Interactivos?, has had a presence in the United States (New York), Brazil (Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro), Mexico (Mexico City), Peru (Lima), Ireland (Dublin), Slovenia (Ljubljana), etc. Its workshop format was even worthy of a special mention in the 2010 Prix Ars awarded by the prestigious Ars Electronica Austrian institution for its form of working collaboratively.
Medialab-Prado turns out to be by far the institution of the council with greatest international presence and recognition. Few public programs can boast of having been thus emulated internationally. It is incomprehensible that an institution that acts as an international ambassador for the city of Madrid, providing an image abroad of the contemporary city and linked to technological and social innovation, is neglected in this way by the City Council, who seems unaware of its potential.