Introduction

The Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987 is a permanent grant program for the production and diffusion of artistic creation and contemporary culture. For the year 2018, a total allocation of 50,000 euros will be committed to the program. Any physical person or group, of legal age, individually or collectively, regardless of their origin, whose work is linked to work in the arts, creation, culture, curatorship, research, and/or social movements and its different public manifestations, is invited to submit.

With the Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987 we want to take on the challenge to produce through a grant program that’s open and permanent—the suitable conditions to promote the production and diffusion of artistic creation and contemporary culture, to rethink the role of the institution, and to propose in this way other forms of relationships between the institution and the artistic community, and the latter’s participation in society.

Projects submitted to the Laboratorio 987 Call for Proposals must be sent through the online form available on the website. The form plays an important role as a tool to help us understand the key elements of the projects, as well as their potential and possible growth. We ask that all projects be presented in the best possible conditions. Thus we ask that you please review the following questions carefully in order to make best use of the form.

Download the entire document of the Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987 (PDF.)

Blueprints of the Laboratorio 987 space

Keywords: art, culture, public institutions, open call, cooperation, research, curatorship production, creation, diffusion, experimentation, lab, science of citizenship, commons, joint action, citizenship, community, social movements, active listening, shared knowledge, de-normalizing.

Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987

The Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987 is a permanent grant program intended for contemporary art and culture production, but also for its diffusion and promotion, since these functions are considered vital for the contemporary creative process. Its objective is to strengthen the cultural context of Castilla y León from an open perspective. This is where the Laboratorio 987 can play a fundamental role through this call for proposals, in terms of organizing around a set of dynamics that will promote not only the return of knowledge to society, but that will also harness what society creates, promotes, or protects.

The Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987 arises, then, as an invitation to any physical person of legal age, regardless of origin, as well as groups and collectives whose work is linked to the arts, creation, culture, education, reach, social movements, and different public expressions in order produce experimental and innovative projects. It's also an invitation to deepen the relationship between cultural action, critical thought, and social engagement.

We also wish for this call for proposals itself to be perceived as a work in progress, and therefore not seen as a closed, definitive, or conclusive call for proposals this year, 2018. In fact, it is born out of a critical calling and aspires to add to its rationale, in its successive editions, all the knowledge, demands, and needs that are identified during its development. A good deal of the learning process of the call for proposals lies in analyzing and evaluating the completed projects while taking into account their achievements, conflicts, and even their mistakes. It's for this reason that the call for entries will incorporate tools to evaluate both the projects and the call for entries mechanism itself, in order to improve it as we move forward.

In turn, the call for proposals is also born with the challenge of becoming that which its name indicates: a laboratory space in which to rehearse, intuit, and experiment with new formulas and engaging tools, and opening up other possibilities for people to use and enjoy its spaces and public media through knowledge and support of research, concerns, and projects.

Genealogies and meaning of the call for proposals for cultural production and diffusion
MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León has as its mission to favor the knowledge of and public access to contemporary art, while taking on the role of stimulating artistic creation in our community, strengthening the different artistic manifestations, and dedicating itself essentially to the conservation, collection, documentation, diffusion, exhibition, and development of contemporary art in Castilla y León. In order to fulfill these objectives it has made accessible to its visitors various services, such as the Library/Documentation Center; it has built a contemporary art collection (the MUSAC Collection); it has organized temporary exhibitions, a scientific publications program, and educational events and general public programming—all this in addition to its work in the communications field, specifically its use and application of transformative technologies and methodologies in the cultural field. Through these initiatives, MUSAC aims to report on the progress of key aspects of the current social and artistic agenda. To this should be added that since 2003, the museum has also implemented a scholarship series and specific programming for the Laboratorio 987, which have served as propellers for artistic production and as launching pads for new professionals in the art world.

This collective endeavor has allowed for a great number of people linked to the arts, creation, culture and thinking, inside and outside of Castilla and León, to develop and show their work, thus promoting the exchange of experiences, ideas, and visions between artists and art professionals, as well as between any person interested in culture as a tool for transformation.

The Laboratorio 987
The space in the museum called Laboratorio 987 has been functioning, up to this point, as an exhibition space and project room, often in a perpendicular and independent way from the rest of the spaces and activities of the museum, and hosting exhibitions and projects—mostly by a single artist. They have been, for the most part, projects often previously unseen in Spain, organized through a curatorial program led by the museum's permanent staff as well as by guest curators and professionals. In the last few years at Laboratorio 987, different voices have slowly come together, emphasizing the importance of collaborative character and collective processes, and crafting fundamental proposals to perceive contemporary culture. Through exhibitions, projects, and definitely, experiences, this room has established a very important part of the museum's legacy, and numerous learning experiences have been launched, which have facilitated exchanging imaginaries [mental images], and thinking and producing in a collective way, as well as intuiting challenges.
Learning processes and previous experiences
Accepting the responsibility for the ongoing need to support new generations of creators, and for continuing to invigorate and foster cultural production in the context of the community of Castilla and León, and understanding that these roles are intimately linked to the idea of a lab or research space, the call for grants for the production and diffusion of contemporary creation, Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987, is the outcome of several learning processes and experiences developed at MUSAC, among which are worth pointing out:
_The project León: Cultura Ficción, carried out with MUSAC's grant for artistic collaboration projects—given to José Luis Rodríguez Fernández through the open call in 2011—proposed identifying crucial agents within the creative and socio-cultural fabric of León, with the aim of gathering and analyzing information about their activities and the resources needed for their further development, especially in relationship to space and connection with the rest of the city's agents, in order to generate sustainable and participatory, creative dynamics.

_In 2013, the local artists Chus Domínguez, Nilo Gallego, and Silvia Zayas carried out an evolving, collaborative project called Laboratorio 987 (the namesake of the space where they were working and displaying the results of their research), whose point of departure and investigations developed as they interacted with other creators and with the audience, doing away with the traditional divisions between genres and between the processes connected to production, communications, and exhibitions.

_The annual contemporary art course organized by DEAC MUSAC [Education Department], which in 2014 was oriented towards a program of contemporary culture and continues today, its first edition was titled Politics and Aesthetics of the Commons. The contents were programmed in cooperation between people from the Department of Exhibitions and Education of the museum. This program, the result of permeability and generosity and openness at that time, allowed us to come closer, in thought and practice, to the different voices in the community, whose debates serve as evidence that knowledge is a collective endeavor that should be introduced into society, in addition to signaling the need to protect and defend the collective commons and promote its public availability.

_Community-oriented and educational projects like the Rara troupe, the contemporary-art debate group, and the contemporary-cinema conversation group all serve as examples of projects and groups that assume co-responsibility and independently manage the museum's spaces and resources, which are put to use as part of an activity directed to its members, and are open, in many ways, to interested parties.

_The exhibition A Pause to Reflect, which accounted for the works produced through the Artistic Creations Grant program from 2003 to 2011, and also provided a necessary, critical read on the calls for grant proposals—on their effectiveness, profitability, opportunity, and necessity today.

_The Laboratorio 987. Days for Cultural Production and Mediation that took place on October 23 and 24, 2015, in which we publicly debated issues and themes related to a call for proposals for productions made according to the current needs of the artistic community and society.
Meaning of the call for proposals

To create the conditions so that certain important questions are generated; so that certain imaginaries, works, and situations are produced; to have the time and to put on a production that will offer an opportunity to reflect on what we do or say in the present—that's what is offered by a call for proposals like this one. Free from media pressures, from the market's conditions for productivity, from the urgency for visibility and trendiness, a group of artists, citizens, and activists with varied interests and origins will have the opportunity to develop a transforming project that corresponds to the nature of their work and research, and that won't be indebted to any commercial or institutional interests.

This is the meaning and sense behind a program for artistic production grants such as the one that we are proposing, which aims to create the conditions to develop appropriate questions in order to fulfill its mission of looking after the present and building a corpus of projects, processes, productions, and works with which to raise timely and appropriate questions.

The phases of production, research, rehearsal, preparation, set-up, and diffusion will succeed each other so that the Laboratorio 987 develops a continuous and sustained activity throughout the year, which will be further stimulated through interaction with the members of the artistic and professional communities, and the general public and society. For the selected projects, the collaboration with the Mediation Group will attempt to create the conditions not only for the proper production of the projects but also to reflect on the reach, timeliness, and importance of artistic production rooted in the contemporary social body.

The Production Grants
The production projects are lines of research that deeply question both the activity of research itself and trajectory of its creators as well as its insertion and meaning in the context of the public sphere and social framework. In the selection of projects, precedence will be given to those that, beyond the quality of the proposals themselves, demonstrate a capacity to raise interesting questions related to the current social and artistic moment. The conclusion or solutions they propose isn't nearly as important as that which the artists explore, through their proposals, as a point of departure. Their certainties are important, but not the most interesting part; rather, the focus should be on open questions and preoccupations for which the answers are still unknown. In this program for production grants, the issue is not primarily to locate answers, because these tend to be the least stimulating and interesting part. The point is, rather, to locate the timely and critical questions, which will, in a certain way, guide the future.

The call for entries reclaims the importance of the essay with a twofold meaning: both as an investigation and as an exemplary case study. Beyond the quality of the projects and the answers that each artist will have, more or less, or at least provisionally, worked out, what will be most interesting, frankly, will be the questions and issues that have guided the artists' research and production processes. It's not as important what they might have done with the project so far, but rather the inherent meaning, reach, and dimensions of what they suggest or indicate through their work.

The challenge of connecting the Call for Proposals Laboratorio 987—and the selected projects that will be produced and/or presented within the space—with the current societal challenges, from a transformative angle, will allow the taking on of a measure of risk, especially in terms of the detection of artistic, cultural, and/or social agents implied in the construction and make-up of a community, scene, or collectivity. It also means that this call for proposals has been conceived in an open way, so that, insofar possible, the projects and artists, groups, and collectives are not conditioned institutionally in any way, and so that we may discover and agree, in a case-by-case basis, on the necessary support structures that projects may require, on a conceptual, legal, or administrative level (licenses, distribution, etc.). To de-normalize this process does not imply in any way relinquishing quality or rigor. Without a doubt, in the medium term, it will contribute to the construction of a more diverse and connected community, before it attracts a more traditional public, which, in any case, will have greater difficulty feeling part of such an experimental approach if sufficient channels aren't put in place in order for them feel a part of it, or if the members of public don't identify as artists from the start. We are trying to address a changing community rather than an intrinsically artistic community. Decisions like this should facilitate the connection between projects and allow to continue imbuing the museum with the sense that it's a research platform and to make this innovative quality part of its identity.