Friday 8th October 2021 – PRESS RELEASE with Mike Smith
Xàbia’s annual civic awards took place on Thursday evening and, for the first time, they were held on a date other than October 9th, the day of the Comunidad Valenciana, and outdoors in the church square, which was filled with residents of the town who came together as a collective to celebrate a history that is still alive and a pride in an identity that is forged through language, customs, lands, and laws.
The reason for these great changes to the normal procedures was the intention of matching two stellar moment in the history of the Valencians and of the Xabieros – the constitution of the Kingdom of Valencia on October 9th, 1238, and the first visit to Xàbia of the famous painter Joaquín Sorolla on October 7th 1896, exactly 125 years ago. In fact, the event was the first of a long commemorative programme dedicated to the latter occasion and this special evening served to deliver the Vila de Xàbia award – which is now in its 25th edition – to the Fundación Museo Sorolla, depositary of the legacy of the renowned Valencian painter.
The president of the Foundation’s Permanent Commission, Antonio Mollá, was in charge of collecting the award from Xàbia mayor José Chulvi, a presentation that seals the permanent union between Sorolla and Xàbia, an “act of justice” in the words of the mayor, that will continue with the “lasting and visible tribute to the unique union between the sea, the light, the man, and the town” that will involve the installation of a sculpture of the painter to whom the La Grava promenade will be dedicated.
Throughout the commemoration, it was possible to evoke the impression made by the artist on October 7th, 1896, through an audiovisual work with the letters that Sorolla wrote to his wife Clotilde as the common thread. After the presentation, the audience was able to enjoy a piano recital called “Sorolla: Un Imaginario Musical” performed by the prestigious pianist and cultural curator, Marta Espinós.
The event, which was presented by the journalist Artur Balaguer, was attended by several members of the council, former mayors of the municipality, and a large representation from the Fundación Sorolla as well as Blanca Pons, the great-granddaughter of the artist.
In his speech, the mayor appealed to the courage and responsibility of all to keep alive the history of Valencian people and to face the challenges that accompany the “future project that is Xàbia”, a desire to continue being “an open port for people from all over the world, who improve us and make us richer with their gaze”.
He added that “the spirit of Xàbia is not defined by buildings or infrastructures, but by the natural, human, cultural and landscape heritage that is unique and has placed us in a privileged position, at the centre of the desire of thousands of people around the world”. But it is also fragile and we have an obligation to take care of it in a determined way, although this means regulating some uses to guarantee that in the future it remains as we have known it”.
Chulvi explained that the municipality has been a pioneer in conservation matters on the Valencian coastline and that it is now willing to continue being brave and work “hand in hand with other administrations to take measures that protect us from the dangers of overcrowding and allow us to continue being a people that has a soul, the same that 125 years ago seduced the painter of light”.
The mayor has also put on the table one of the great challenges for the councils and that is to have sufficient funding and freedom to be able to act as the closest administration. “Our greatest challenge is to make sure that our residents find the necessary conditions to carry out their life project in Xàbia every day”.
“The town councils are far from the big headlines, but close to reality, putting a face, skin and eyes on day-to-day affairs. We do not see statistics, we see people we know, families with whom we share the street and the deepest experiences. And for that reason, we will rebel as many times as necessary against the rules that tie our hands and pretend that everyone’s money is left sitting in a drawer before investing them in the service of the people”.