Claudio Massetti: New Director of Centro Cultural Recoleta

June 2008.

Arte al Día: Would you define yourself as a cultural manager? 

Claudio Massetti: Yes, I feel like a cultural manager. I started working in this field out of need, because as an artist I come from the performing arts. I started being a mime in 1982 with a great need to search for and create spaces and then realized that politics did not consider the area of culture as essential. The public administrations, that were the product of the great institutional irregularity that our country experienced for many years, were a decorative area. I began to work for culture so that politicians could incorporate cultural management into their platform. 

AAD: What was your first job as a cultural manager? 

CM: When I was 28 years old I was the Director of Culture in the City of Córdoba, for 8 years. We were able to create 10 new cultural centers in the CPC (Centro de Participación Comunal). The cultural centers were designed by the architect Miguel Ángel Roca.  With this plan, the city of Cordoba was able to have an unprecedented cultural infrastructure and I was responsible for the implementation that was extended to all of Latin America because Cordoba was able to demonstrate actions in cultural policy that were taken in the UCI (Union of Capital Cities of Latin America) and we were the Cultural Capital of Mercociudades in 1998. 

AAD: Then you continued your professional work in Buenos Aires

CM: Yes, I was summoned as Director of the Palais de Glace, from 2000 to 2001. I reformed the regulations of the National Visual Arts Salon, incorporating electronic arts and installations.

AAD: How did you continue your career in Buenos Aires? 

CM: From 2002 to 2007 I was the Executive Director of the San Martín Cultural Center. 

AAD: Who called you to be the Director of the Recoleta Cultural Center? 

CM: I was summoned by Hernán Lombardi to accompany him in his work team at the Ministry of Culture. And the truth is that Recoleta is a very precious place, it is the great showcase of Buenos Aires’ cultural activity. 

AAD: What are your projects for the Centro Cultural Recoleta? 

CM: Several are already underway. There is a strong management work that has to do with reorienting the organization as a public institution that has to improve aspects of its administration and operation. It’s a very sought-after place by sponsors and has a very good Friends Association. However, it should not be forgotten that a public organization must comply with certain rules on budget execution that it had not been developing until now. Paradoxically, it did not use all its budgetary possibilities. We are working hard on that reform. 

We now have the possibility of having a source of our own income that will allow us to have a store to sell merchandising and cultural products, books, and take artworks of artists in small format on consignment to be sold. 

AAD: You also opened the Paseo de los Tilos corridor. 

CM: Yes, there is a new public space in the city that had already been designed by the architects of the Recoleta Cultural Center (Testa, Benedit and Bedel). They thought at that time that the Paseo de los Tilos should be a pedestrian area and it was not being used in this way but as a patio. What we did was open it up, to generate a circulation of people that is unprecedented. Another reform is the extension of the schedules; we are now open from Monday to Monday from 10 AM to 9 PM.  

AAD: There is also an idea of decentralizing the right wing.

CM: Yes, Recoleta has 3 rooms with very good characteristics: Cronopios and rooms J and C. And they have generated a preference in the programming with respect to the others. The idea is to desacralize this a bit and revalue the left wing of the cultural center by guiding the programming towards those rooms as well, which are comparable in quality to the Reina Sofia. 

AAD: The year began with two exceptional exhibitions, Liliana Maresca and Pablo Suárez. How do you feel about them? 

CM: I feel very proud to have fulfilled a goal that had been previously designed. We have given continuity to the projects that the institution already had. Pablo Suárez’s show was conceived but not executed, so we conducted a strong production work together with three other museums where it will be exhibited: the Castagnino + Macro Museum in Rosario (where the show began before coming to Buenos Aires), the Caraffa Museum in Córdoba and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Neuquén.

In addition, in the context of ArteBA fair we received a visit from the directors of the main museums of the world. We had the best reviews from them, hopefully some of them will be tempted and ask us for it.