Sitges reconsidering Paul McCartney’s university project for an Institute for Performing Arts

The new city government is considering the continuation of a project started by the last Mayor. The venture proposed by the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), the specialist higher education institution co-founded by Paul McCartney, is to open a Barcelona version (BIPA) in the coastal town of Sitges. The previous proposals included a large scale urban development plan, however the new Sitges Town Council would now use existing buildings. A public competition to manage the project could be opened in the upcoming months.

CNA / Javi Polinario / David Tuxworth

August 24, 2012 11:13 PM

Sitges (ACN.) – Sitges Town Council is considering the development of a leading university project. The ACN has learned that they are considering reviving the plans of the previous Mayor, Jordi Baijet, to welcome the specialist higher education institution co-founded by Paul McCartney, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), to open a Barcelona version (BIPA). The promoter of the initiative, Giles Auckland-Lewis, has again proposed the idea to the new City Council, which could open a public competition to manage the project in the upcoming months. Unlike the previous ‘Qualia Sitges’ project framed under Baijet’s administration, the education centre would accommodate 700 students in existing buildings rather than starting an urban development plan.

The idea for a Barcelona Institute for Performing Arts (BIPA) in the Greater Barcelona town of Sitges is once again being considered, this time by the new Mayor, Miquel Forns. The promoter of the idea, Giles Auckland-Lewis, has proposed the idea again, this time without his previous partner, the Montcau Group, which could also propose a similar project in the town of Sant Cugat in Vallès (also in Greater Barcelona), according to the Sitges Town Council. However it remains to be seen which town will host the Catalan version of the LIPA.

Sitges Town Council, despite a “solid proposal” from the LIPA, will open a public competition in the coming months to find the option which best fits the towns needs, a project which promotes employment, consumption, the town’s image and provides stability for the future. Even though the idea of an education centre proposed by the LIPA is very attractive to Miquel Forn’s team, they have to comply with the law and hear all proposals from possible entrepreneurs or investors.  

What is clear is that the local executive wants to see a university centre which would form part of a powerful strategy to direct the future of the town and “leave a legacy for Sitges, not only culturally, but also for employment and trade”, a councilman told ACN. Regarding employment, a postgraduate university for performing arts would create many jobs and attract internationally renowned lecturers. Furthermore, there would be around 700 students, encouraging local trade and consumption.

Differences with 'Qualia Sitges'

The team from the previous city government, led by Jordi Baijet, was behind the ‘Qualia Sitges. Espai Creatiu del Mediterrani’ proposal which was designed to put the town at the fore front of the international creative economy [please refer to the related article]. Baijet’s team wanted the Qualia Sitges Campus to occupy an area of 100,000 square metres, situated between the Sitges Design Centre and the Can Robert Park. It would have been host to several parks, public facilities, schools and buildings dedicated to the innovation and promotion of artistic, business and cultural projects as well as serving as a space for education.

However, ultimately the construction of so many buildings was not viable, so Forn’s team has opted for a similar project that uses existing infrastructure and facilities such as the Sitges Design Centre. ACN’s source said that the development plan that would have run parallel to the university initiative is now “obsolete and has been reinvented” to focus on the main aims of the project. The project is being carried out by the Town Hall’s Service for Economic Initiatives and the Mayor’s office.