This is the story behind one of the nicest street art festivals in the world. Indeed, it is not a street art festival but a social project. MIAU stands for Museu Inacabat d’Art Urbà (Unfinished Museum of Street Art). But it means also meow. And yes, there are cats in Fanzara.
It all started in September 2014. Indeed, it all started some 9 years before in Fanzara, a small village of around 300 inhabitants not far from the Mediterranean coast in Valencia but not close enough to be a tourist attraction. A politician planned to build a waste incinerator plant next to the village probably believing the aged population would not create many problems about it. Slight mistake. The neighbours joined forces and revolted against the project. Finally, they won the battle and the plan was abandoned.
Surprisingly, this success was not the end of the story but its beginning. The battle had created a kind of social revolution at local level and the neighbours, maybe old in age but not in spirit, kept meeting and organising activities.
Some of the most active people in the village proposed to organise a street art festival. It seemed an original idea, so to say. You take a small village in the middle of nowhere. On the one hand, you have to convince some young street artists to come to paint. With a very limited budget, you have to convince them to come for free. And on top of that, you ask them to take into account the residents when deciding about the paintings. This is still a social project. On the other hand, you have to convince some aged neighbours to let their walls being painted by those strangers…and to host them at home! Adopt an artist, they call it. Normally, this crazy idea should go nowhere. Probably, the politician who planned the landfill site would share this view. But this is Fanzara.
By Pol Marban.
We are in September 2014 and the first edition of the Miau is about to take place. At this moment, the organisers cannot slightly imagine what a huge success it will be. The relationship among street artists and local people was magic. Some neighbours who initially did not take part in the project ended up chasing the artists to come to paint their walls. More than 40 walls were painted in few days. Yes, we are still talking about a village of 300 inhabitants. But it was not only the impact for the locals. News spread quickly and many people living nearby visited the village for the first time in their lives. Including me.
Xèlön at work.
Given the magnitude of the impact, the organisers started working on the second edition. Of course, the success did not change their approach. The challenges focused on finding innovative artistic projects and completing the programme with extra activities. The overall approach remained the same: engaged artists should come to integrate with locals and take part in a participative social project. For the first time, the organisers had to face a big dilemma: it was impossible to accept all the requests from artists interested in joining!
The second edition took place in July 2015. The logo of the festival fell under the responsibility of Deih, who already took part in the first edition. It was again a great success. Many people visited the village during the days of the festival and the atmosphere was fantastic. Apart from the paintings, other activities, such as talks or workshops for kids and concerts, were in the programme. Currently, there are almost 90 walls painted. Although not reached yet, it will come to a point when some walls will need to be cleaned to receive new paintings. This is assumed and not surprising if we consider the ephemeral aspect of street art. This is also the reason why this is considered to always be an unfinished museum.
By Thiago Goms.
In the meantime, the project became popular in the media, being mentioned at National (La Aventura del Saber, TVE [in Spanish]) and even international level (The Guardian). And the project keeps evolving. They aim at organising a monthly activity around art. In April, three Italian street artists came to paint. The organisers have been invited to different art festivals (MARTE, Asalto, Intramuros). Presentations of the project are given regularly and schools of neighbouring villages organise visits.
The third edition of the festival will take place in July 2016 and it will certainly be astonishing. This time, I hope not to miss it. I would like to check personally the surprises they prepare for us. See you there.
A short list with some artists involved: Animalito Land, Borondo, Btoy, Cere, Costi, Deih, Emilio Cerezo, Escif, H101, Hombre López, Julián Arranz, Julieta XLF, Kenor, Lolo, NemO’s, Pichi&Avo, Pincho, Pol Marban, Sabek, Thiago Goms and Xèlön.
You may visit my gallery of pictures at the Miau.