Friday, 8 March 2013

Of museums and sports facilities

Browsing back through the Forum Ilha das Flores, there's news of a new centro cultural - to be branded Museu - being built in Santa Cruz at a cost of €1.78m:-

Reason it caught my eye was it looks remarkably similar to the museu being built in Lajes at a cost of something not unadjacent:-

Is it just me or does that look like a Thunderbirds set?

That apart, you're probably wondering why an island of 4,000 people needs not one but TWO museus (centros culturais - whatever).

After all, it's not as if the island is not already entirely un-endowed with museums as witness below from the Camara Municipal of Lajes' website boasting of the three they already have. (There's also a fourth in Fajazinha which, though complete, has never, so far as I know, been opened to the public.)

And, of course, because we have not one but two local authorities on this island of 4,000 people, there's also the Museu das Flores in the Sao Boaventura monastery within the bailiwick of Santa Cruz das Flores:-

There's also the Centro de Interpretação Ambiental do Boqueirão in the old whaling factory. You can dress it up as a centro de interpretação all you like but to my mind it's still a museu. It's also the only one on this island I've ever been in. It was while I had time to kill while Braga's were doing a job on the car. You'd need a Smithsonian Institute to kill the amount of time it actually takes when Braga's bloke says "uma hora mais ou menos" but, anyway, being plunged into darkness with whales and turtles and whatnot squawking at you out of telly screens doesn't really do it for me. 

It was very slick, but for my 2,50€ a museum is not complete without a glass case containing a cutaway working model of a steam engine with lots of cranks and pistons and - most importantly of all - a button you can press to set the engine in motion.

I do, however, give the Centro de Interpretação Ambiental do Boqueirão credit for not having any examples of what we call "broken pots" - nondescript fragments of Iron Age earthenware out of which some archaeologist trying to make a career for himself has built an entire civilisation in a triumph of hope over expectation. (That's because nobody lived on Flores in the Iron Age - and the day someone discovers evidence they did is the day we leave.) 

If you can't have a steam engine in your museu, then a Boeing 707 flight deck (supra) is a good second best. In fairness, I doubt if a 707 has ever landed on Flores. If it had, it could certainly never get off again and thus would merit a centro cultural to house it in. But what does exist on this island is a typewriter ribbon cassette thingy still for sale on a shelf in a shop in Lajes (naming no names) and priced in escudos (the Portuguese currency before the Euro). I kid you not. I'm jolly tempted to buy it and present it to the new museu in Lajes (or Sta Cruz if they'll make me a better offer) as a centre piece. Because otherwise, I have a mental picture of bargain hunters fanning out across the island shaking down old ladies' houses in the hunt for bits of old toot to fill this over capacity of espacos culturais.

But if there's one thing we've got even more of on this island than museums, it's sports facilities. Thus, for example, there is currently being built in Faja Grande what the Camara Municipal is billing as the "21st century sports facility":-

This is in addition to the already existing sports facility in Lajes (which admittedly is 20th century and perhaps, therefore, no longer fit for purpose - not being a sporty type myself, I wouldn't know):-

That's as well as the indoor gym and swimming pool at Lajes which has never been finished for about 3 years now due to some contractual dispute between the Camara and the contractors:-

You can replicate all of that in Sta Cruz municipality in the north half of the island.

Of course, we all know what's going on here - there are EU development funds on offer to "fragile peripheral areas" to fund "cultural and sports" developments. I have a mental picture of some earnest Eurocrat imagining the back streets of Sta Cruz to be hoatching with undiscovered Ronaldos kicking tin cans around their mothers' skirts for want of a paper bag in the middle of road never mind a 21st century sports facility.

And the Camaras of Lajes and SC hoover all this dosh up to keep people in short term employment. And well done to the Camaras for being so astute to take advantage of what's on offer. It's not them I blame but Brussels for designing grant schemes for developments of dubious long term value to the island. More and more museums and sports facilities are not - to use a word very popular just now in British English - sustainable.

Given that the fibre optic cable is now underway (I believe), I don't know what I'd spend a couple of big ones of Eurodosh on in pursuit of a truly sustainable investment in Flores once I'd paid for the runway lights to be upgraded to allow night flights so as to give a far more flexible schedule, perhaps even allowing a day trip to Lisbon at least one day a week.

Note to self to think about that but I'll leave you with the observation that the new museum in Sta Cruz which provoked this post is being built on the site of - irony of ironies - a redundant football pitch!



Luís Henriques said...

Interesting vision you present here. Are you still living in Flores?

Marisa said...

Inacreditável!!!! (unbelievable)
And this is why this country doesn´t move forward. Those are dead investments, with no wealth gains what so ever. There's the construction, and all the staff and stuff, and than there's the maintenance.....

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