Culture 24/02/2021

Director says Institut del Teatre "took measures that did not get to the heart of the matter".

She expresses solidarity with victims and regrets they did not activate protocol

3 min
Magda Puyo in an interview to Tv3

BarcelonaThe director of the Institut del Teatre, Magda Puyo, has admitted "mistakes" in the management of cases of abuse of power and sexual harassment and has once again "shown solidarity" with the victims. Moreover, in an interview with Els matins de TV3, she has alleged the lack of tools to avoid these situations, which exist "not in the Institut but in society", and wondered why the protocol has not worked to bring the cases to light. She attributed it to a "communication" error. "Students were not very well informed of the protocol. Fear makes them not dare to report, and we have to deal with it," she said. Puyo has defended her mandate and has assured that only one case is current and that the others are prior to her directorship, which is due for renewal next month.

All this, however, "are not excuses," she reiterated: "If there is a victim, there is a victim, and I am not the one to say that someone is not [a victim], and therefore we have to work with that person, accompany and help them and automatically remove the harasser." That is why the institution has already launched a psychological support service, which will begin on Monday, and rapid attention to students so complaints can be processed immediately, which, depending on the severity, could be taken to the Prosecutor's Office.

A protocol that does not work

Puyo believes that the problem has been not acknowledging the size of the case and not channelling the discomfort formally. "Measures have been taken that did not get to the bottom of the issue," she admits. Since 2018 the Institut was provided with a protocol against harassment but had not received any complaints until Monday: "The protocol is magnificent, it is the application that is not good," said Puyo, who also said that on Friday they proposed to a group of seven students who had sent to the direction a letter of complaint against Ollé to formalise it, which did not happen until Monday. A previous complaint, from 2016, when she became director, had no consequences "because there was no protocol". "Mediation and attitude correction work was done" and the direction thought that an agreement had been reached with the student, but it was wrong. "The mistakes are not hers, but those of the institution and the representatives. I don't want to take responsibility off my shoulders. It has come now, and we assume it," she said on TV3, although she also believes that they would need "specialists on this issue, us and other schools".

It will be the commission that has been created to follow up the case, which will last two or three weeks, and will have meetings with all sides, also with Joan OIlé. Puyo has asked for "legal certainty" for Ollé and said that "he must be hurt". On whether the teacher's behaviour was an open secret, she said that "perhaps there were people who knew, but you cannot work with corridor rumours, since it is a very serious thing, very big, it is demeaning". She also admitted that the teacher has a problem with alcohol that they did not know how to deal with. "It's hard to deal with mental illness. A sick person is a sick person and I think you have to help them and that's what we have tried to do day by day; perhaps we needed more medical help, a specialist to guide us".

The director of the Institut del Teatre, who has said that she will run for the directorship of the centre - "When there are problems I don't consider leaving, because it seems cowardly to me", she said -, hopes that the work they do at the Institut will serve to change the paradigm within the performing arts, because she also claims to have suffered from toxic power relations. "What was being done was not right but it was tolerated as normal. The fact that there used to be another paradigm is no excuse now."