Roca Umbert Art's Factory-culture and innovation for development through artists' residency programm
Organisation : Granollers/Barcelona/ Roca Umbert Art's Factory , Spain

Roca Umbert Arts’ Factory is a vibrant cultural place open to everyone and in continuous transformation. It is committed to the creative processes, the artistic creation and the dialogue between different arts. It also promotes the access to culture for everyone and it contributes to sustainable development.

The Factory is a unique place where the visual arts, music and dance are mixed with the creation of innovative ideas, cultural heritage and technology, as well as popular culture. They are linked to be experienced in any of the contemporary arts, and to be shared with the citizens.

Agendas addressed
Public spaceSocial inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
guillem rodriguez, movement residence program (2018)

Granollers is located 30km north of Barcelona and it has a population of approximately 60.000 inhabitants. It is known as a crossroad in the region and is well known for its industrial past.

Its proximity to a big city could have undermined its character, but Granollers has avoided this by defining its strategic projects, understanding its culture to be a backbone for development and due to strong, organised nature of its civil society.

The Factory is an open and sustainable place for artistic production and creation. Apart from promoting cultural production, the Factory offers temporary working places to artists, so they can work easily. All the Residency Programmes need to ensure  social feedback, so they can establish synergies and guarantee access to culture is universal. These residency programmes have also let the Factory become an economic driver, as they have available working places for creators.

In Action
arnau bellavista, visual residence program (2017)

Roca Umbert and Granollers draw from the idea that culture is a common good. The project we are submitting is an artist in residence program, by which some artists live together in the former factory. The residences are temporary stages for creators placed in an encouraging environment where they can find creation/working places, resources and support services to develop themselves professionally. These programs arise from culture and education policies which have creation at their core. The purpose is the collective creation, as Arnau Bellavista (one of the artists in residence) says: “it is a productive place as all the artists live together so they can exchange and share experiences”.

The Factory has recently started working to make some steps forward and to draw links between culture and environmental sustainability. In the near future we want to promote two artists’ residences programmes that will last for 4 months and they will work with institutions and companies related to waste management, like the Consorci de Residus (Waste Management Consortium), to join the daily life in the treatment plant.

The project wants to draw links between the present and the past of the factory, so that the citizens and the artists are aware of what the different buildings of the former factory used to be, what it meant to the city and how it has been adapted to become a place of creation and innovation for the community. The core idea of the programmes is changed by the Commission every year. The suggestion for the upcoming edition is “making the future”, following the idea that factories have been relocated to the suburbs to solve the pollution problem, but it has just been moved. The discussion about the consumption and pollution is still alive even if it is far from our daily lives.

The transformation process of Roca Umbert has followed The Basque Declaration:

  • Encourage citizens to actively engage in the the creation process.
  • Encourage social innovation and the social and civil commitment.
  • Promote the innovative cooperation to generate talent attraction and local value through projects like the one we are submitting which will link the Waste Management Consortium and Granollers en Transició (Granollers in Transition).
artists working place

Since the programme started, the number of creators has progressively increased. The councilor Alba Barnusell defined the Art’s Factory as “a place for the people who work there as well as the schools, the local entities and the library”. The projects are supported by The Factory and one experienced professional, and sometimes they can also have financial support. The artists are invited to apply for public grants and they also have their product promoted.

The creation concept of Roca Umbert Arts’ Factory combine different initiatives: from a theatre academy in one of the buildings of the factory up to the People's University which includes an arts’ branch to bring knowledge about art’s history and contemporary/modern creation. It also includes an association of popular culture that promotes folk dance in different formats, to open it to everyone, including people with functional diversity.  During the first semester of 2018, 286 activities took place in the former factory and the buildings has been lent out 166 times.

Granollers would not be the same without Roca Umbert, the same way as it defined the city the last century. It is important to see the consolidation of The Factory and how it is put in value by the citizenship. Furthermore, there is permanent contact with the citizens, working for full inclusion.


The projects linked to the new purpose about environmental sustainability will be presented publicly during the Mostra d’Art Urbà (Urban Art Showroom). The showroom comes from the understanding of the public space as an interactive platform and it is also claimed as an experimental place for reflection. It hosts 500 visitors every year including individual visitors, the ones who join the activities or the guided visits.

This artistic production is endorsed by the public as it has an impact to artistic projects. Nowadays, there are 30 projects in visual arts and image and 8 projects about movement, dance and circus. All of them must have a direct impact in different areas (education, social entities, etc.). This impact reinforces the citizenship’s participation during the creation processes and it blurs the division between private initiatives, personal interests and public institutions.

Thus, the artists’ residences programme give artists the change to develop a professional activity that can be consolidated with the guidance received. Moreover, it promotes inclusion providing people with ease of access to culture. And it also has the determination to head for projects related to waste management.

The social return can be measured with the activities made or the visitors received (distinguishing sex, age and other relevant characteristics). On the other hand, to count the environmental sustainability we can take into account the duration of the project, its continuity, people who work with it, synergies generates or the artist’s mobility.

Challenges and lessons learned
colectivo najera, movement residence program (2018)

Roca Umbert has an important drawing power since it has focused on creation and how it can be used as a working tool in areas which are (apparently) not related to Arts. The artists’ residences program wants to extend its working area to have an impact on other fields in the city, like educational centers or institutions like the Teatre Auditori (City Theatre).

When cooperation between different areas is strengthened, new collaborations between artists arise and they will start working in areas less common, but more innovative and creative through the cooperation with the public and private sector.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

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79098 Freiburg

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