The management team of the Escola Superior d'Art Dramàtic resigns en bloc after the stepping down of Magda Puyo
The Barcelona Provincial Council paralyzes the open call for the renewal of the management, to which Puyo had applied
BarcelonaThis Friday morning Magda Puyo has resigned as general director of the Institut del Teatre (IT) following cases of sexual harassment and abuse of power uncovered on Sunday by the ARA. "I fully assume my responsibility for not having been able to find, despite having tried, effective tools to free the Institute from abusive and authoritarian behaviour. I strongly condemn these behaviors, I sympathize with the victims and I apologize to all those students who have felt forgotten by us", she said in a statement. Her resignation has already been accepted by the Provincial Council, the Diputació de Barcelona, the body which the Institut del Teatre depends on.
Hours later, at midday, the entire management team of the Escola Superior d'Art Dramàtic (Higher Artistic Education in Dramatic Art School) - one of the schools that make up the IT - resigned en bloc. In particular, they waive the extension of their term of office so that the changeover in the management of the center can begin quickly. The resignation is a consequence of Puyo's decision: "We feel totally identified with her project, a project in which we continue to believe but which, unfortunately, has been interrupted. We find it sad and unfair". They add: "We would like our decision to be interpreted as a gesture of reparation towards the students, especially towards those who have been victims of abuse. We reiterate our apologies for not having been able to find the necessary tools to eliminate attitudes that violate people's fundamental rights", they conclude, in a letter signed by the director, Montse Vellvehí, the assistant director Andreu Raich, the head of interpretation Raimon Molins, the head of direction and dramaturgy, Carlos Fernández, the head of scenography Bibiana Puigdefàbregas and Montse Figueras.
Puyo has been the director of the Institut del Teatre for the last five years. Before becoming the first woman to head of the institution, she was a professor of directing and acting from 1996 and academic coordinator from 2009 to 2011. This year her mandate was coming to an end, so the process of renewal of the direction was opened again. The Provincial Council has informed the ARA that at this moment the call for the election of a new director is being held, to which two candidates had presented themselves, one of which was Magda Puyo, who in an interview to Tv3 had said two days ago that she was not thinking of resigning but that she would like to defend her project. The other candidate was the voice teacher Anna Estrada. Once Puyo resigns, the Diputació is studying how to proceed. One proposal is to look for a temporary management.
This Friday morning the students of the Institut del Teatre have once again called an assembly at the doors of the centre, as they have done every day this week. After yesterday's demonstration in the centre of Barcelona, the students had called a strike on Monday 1st to denounce the abuses and harassment (for which they demanded the resignation of Puyo and the entire management team of the IT and the ESAD). This Friday they have decided to extend it to the rest of the performing arts schools and the rest of the sector.
New collective complaint
The mobilization also continues throughout the networks. About eighty students have already signed a virtual letter that will reach the direction of the Institut del Teatre and in which they denounce mistreatment and abuse of power by two teachers, G.R. and T.B., the latter already retired. These cases involve mistreatment, public humiliation, and manipulation, among other bad teaching practices. The signatories have been victims or witnesses and claim that these actions, in addition to anxiety, fear, shame and internal divisions, had effects on the mental, curricular and occupational health of several people. Students want personal and institutional redress. If registered at the school, this would be the third instance that would reach the direction of the Institut del Teatre. On Monday the first one against Joan Ollé was presented by seven students. The ARA also learned of a second instance sent by a former student.
In addition to the internal commission created as a result of the crisis, and the removal of director Joan Ollé from teaching, this Thursday the Catalan Ombudsman announced that they will investigate cases of sexual harassment, abuse of power and psychological mistreatment at the Institut del Teatre. In view of the students' complaints on the actions of some teachers, including theatre director Joan Ollé, the Catalan Ombudsman has decided to open an ex-officio action and has requested information from the Barcelona Provincial Council, as owner of the centre, and from the Barcelona Education Consortium. Also on Thursday, the Barcelona Provincial Council announced that it would appear as a private prosecutor in the event that an official complaint is filed and a trial is opened.