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25th Anniversary of Bertsozale Elkartea

"Beste laurogei urtian" (2012), a documentary made by the association Euskal Herriko Bertsozale Elkartea for its 25th anniversary. It explains the beginnings of the association through interviews with members who have participated in the creation and development of this cultural project whose goal is the promotion, research and transmission of bertsolaritza.

[English subtitles]

1985 - 1987

In 1985, due to certain differences between the Academy of the Basque Language and the participating bertsolaris, the latter organised the 1986 National Championship.

After this decision, on the 18 of June 1987, the Bertsolaris Association of Euskal Herria was created.

1987 - 1990

Bertsolaritza became famous and gained prestige, and it is in this ambit that the Association of the Friends of Bertsolaritza began to organise:

  • In 1987, the Association employed a person to work for them, in premises ceded by the Donostia-San Sebastian City Council
  • People started to join as members, provincial associations were created and governing bodies started to function
  • In 1987 a sociological study on the bertsolari was undertaken
  • In 1988 a television programme on bertsos was started
  • From 1988 education material was brought out, in collaboration with the Association of Ikastolas
  • The Xenpelar Documentation Centre was set up in 1990
  • In 1987 the recording of performances was coordinated and, in 1988, the (subsequently annual) Bapatean magazine was published for the first time
  • The BertsoZale internal bulletin for members was brought out in1989
  • The National Championship was organised in 1989 and the Day of the Bertsolari became an annual event
  • The schools for bertsolaris spread throughout the Basque Country.

1991 -1996

Responding to the great prestige achieved by the bertsolaritza art form in Basque society at large, new projects were initiated. This had a direct impact on the economic situation of the association and provoked some moments of conflict:

  • In 1991 three new employees were contracted to work for the Association
  • In 1991 the Xenpelar Documentation Centre was established in premises ceded by the Kutxa Savings Bank
  • Between 1991 and 1993 the Siadeco company carried out a study on the public interest in bertsolaritza
  • In 1993 the National Championship of Bertsolaris was organised
  • The Day of the Bertsolari continued to be organised annually but, in 1996, the format and the day were changed. The Day of the Bertsolari came to be a day of tributes – the Day of the Bertso
  • In 1993 and 1995 work undertaken by Bertsolamintza think-tanks was published
  • In 1995 the association became the Association of the Friends of Bertsolaritza
  • Special initiatives were prepared for the training of the teachers for the bertso-schools
  • Between 1995-1996 relations between the Association and the Government became difficult: aid dried up, the TV programme was cut and economic difficulties started to bite
  • Two of the Association’s employees had to leave and a number of projects could not be undertaken.

    1997 - 2001

    The situation of the Association returned to normal, its structure and working is reinforced and important strategic strides are made:

    • The employees made redundant were re-employed and two more were taken on.
    • The LANKU service for organising events and performances was launched
    • Likewise the 1997 National Championship and corresponding Days of the Bertso
    • In 1996 in Mexico and in 1998 on the Canary Islands, bertsolaris took part in two days of improvisers from countries where Spanish is spoken
    • In 2000, a collaboration agreement was signed with the Department of Language Policy of the Basque Government by which the regional governments of Bizkaia and Araba financed a number of projects
    • In 2000 an important programme of digitalisation was launched by the Xenpelar Documentation Centre
    • Large investment was made in communications infrastructure.

    2001 - 2005

    Together with the maturity that experience and the passing of the years bring, the Association of the Friends of Bertsolaritza has been able to undertake several projects:


    • The book, The art of bertsolaritza: the reality of and keys to Basque oral improvisation was published in 2001 in four languages
    • In 2001 the National Championship was organised with its corresponding Day of the Bertso
    • In the autumn of 2003 Oral Improvisation in the World Intercultural Meetings were organised
    • In 2005 a date base of world improvisation was established
    • The LANKU service became a limited company in 2004
    • The process of unification of the Association was initiated
    • A new president was elected at the General Assembly in 2005.