Far from what they looked like before

Sep 06, 2020
Despite the improvement of the health situation, only 25% of the bertso performances are being carried out comparing to previous years.

The bertso performances were in full swing when all of a sudden everything stopped in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the situation and the consequent measures have been evolving, and the performances have had to adapt to the corresponding conditions. In any case, the situation of the bertso shows is far from the way it looked before.

The pandemic and the measures to face it push to cancel all the bertso performances from March 13 on, and all the shows came to nothing until May. At this period, some bertsolaris began to offer performances from home, online and free.

When the State of Emergency was lifted, it was allowed to go to work but it was not possible to assist cultural events. Therefore, at the beginning of May, both the association Bertsozale Elkartea and the company Lanku Kultur Zerbitzuak began to broadcast bertso shows at the headquarters of the association in Amasa-Villabona. The performances had a good reception.

By the end of May, cultural events could be organized but with a reduced capacity. It was a tough challenge for the local culture organizers; so, Bertsozale Elkartea organized a bertso performance in Amasa-Villabona on June 5 with all the security measures guaranteed. The aim was to demonstrate that cultural shows were safe healthwise.

From June 8 on, the limitations were reduced and by mid-June there were already some bertso shows fixed. Instead of festivities, municipalities started to organize culture programmes for summer, and bertso shows were part of that offer. The so called festivals (shows with around 5 bertsolaris on stage and the public sitting down at a prudent distance) have prevailed over other formats such as the ones carried out around a meal or in the street where the distance between the improvisator and the public is too short.

Urcertain prospects

Uncertainty is being common at these times. Oier Iurramendi, head of promotion at the association Bertsozale Elkartea and Marta Agirrezabala coordinator of the company Lanku Kultur Zerbitzuak assure that "we are very far" from the previous situation. "There are many ups and downs: some of the shows organized are called off later, and autumn seems will take the same way", they say and add as well: "Nowadays, comparing to the figures of previous years, only 25 % of the shows are being organized. The future is uncertain". In any case, Iurramendi and Agirrezabala want to highlight that the performances are being "very well received".

Although it is certain that organizing and assisting cultural events is safe healthwise, uncertainty and fear have also caused harmful effect on the bertso market: "The prospects are not good and we are quite concerned. All this can leave bertsolaritza in a delicate situation unless support and guarantees are provided", affirm Iurramendi and Agirrezabala: "Everyone’s effort will be necessary".