Miguel de Cervantes lives on, after four hundred years. It is now four hundred years since the writer’s death, but his Fourth Centenary will bring to life a collective celebration that includes exhibitions, concerts, plays and dance, film screenings, publications and studies, research programmes, tourist trails, digital projects and a host of activities for dissemination and to encourage reading.
Between the man and the legend, during a life worthy of a novel, there lived many Cervanteses: the son of a barber-surgeon in Alcalá de Henares and the soldier at Lepanto, the slave in Algiers and the writer of comedies in Madrid, the provisions officer in Seville and the subtle observer on the roads of La Mancha, the published author in Valladolid and the poet in all places, in all of his books. There are many Cervanteses, and all of them have a place in this Fourth Centenary.
Cervantes’s work explains Spain to the world, and the world is understood by means of the Spain of his time. Those were troubled times, of crisis and splendour, in which the Renaissance gave way to the Baroque, and the conflict of civilisations which had the Mediterranean as its stage would be for Cervantes much more than a backdrop; it was the theatre of operations for a man of action. Cervantes gave substance to life – the meaning of life – in his books and exhausted the possibilities of human existence in his adventure of a lifetime. He did many things in many places, and dreamt all the rest – for instance, he dreamt of America, over which there were already designs for an empire. For this reason, his Fourth Centenary has a universal appeal that transcends borders and includes a great number of disciplines.
Cervantes is transcendent because he is larger than his own life, just as his work overflows its own course. This commemoration is also meant to transcend the formal channels of a rigid and institutional programme, and it opens new windows onto different ways of participating, so that it becomes, above all things, a collective, social event.
Whether through public or private initiative, the Fourth Centenary delves deep into the legend and reality of the man that Cervantes was, which also had a bearing on his relationship with other contemporary writers such as Lope de Vega and Shakespeare, whose fourth centenary is also celebrated this year.
From the work to the man, and from the man to the legend, there are many Cervanteses to share in 2016, and many Cervanteses to discover. 400 Cervantes is an invitation to the journey.
In April 2015, under the Honorary Presidency of Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Spain, the National Commission for the Commemoration of the 4th Centenary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes was created. The Commission is regulated by Royal Decree 289/2015, of April 17 – BOE of 23rd April, 2015. Its aim is to plan, promote and coordinate the various activities carried out to commemorate this event and also to contribute to highlighting the figure of Miguel de Cervantes and his contribution to world literature and universal culture.
It is an inter-ministerial body linked to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and is presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of the Presidency. The first Deputy Prime Minister and the second Deputy Prime Minister correspond, respectively, to the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport and to the Secretary of State for Culture.
The National Commission is the body responsible for implementing the support programme of the Centenary celebration and for coordinating the various activities involved in this commemoration that will be carried out by Public Authorities, public and private entities as well as by individuals. The National Commission is made up of a Plenum and an Executive Committee.
The members of the Plenum of the National Commission are representatives from the government as well as from a number of regions and institutions that are particularly involved in both the life and work of Miguel de Cervantes. It includes representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Finance and Public Administration, and Industry, Energy and Tourism; the autonomous regions of Catalonia, Andalusia, Aragón, Castile-La Mancha, Madrid, and Castile and León; the Town Council of Alcalá de Henares; the National Library of Spain; the Prado Museum; the Royal Spanish Academy; the Cervantes Institute and Spanish Cultural Action (AC/E).
Within the National Commission for the Centenary an Executive Committee has also been set up, presided over the Secretary of State for Culture and whose members are from the National Library of Spain, Spanish Cultural Action (AC/E), the Cervantes Institute, the Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, the Region of Madrid, the Mayor of Alcalá de Henares, and the Royal Spanish Academy.
The Centenary revolves around five Plans which in turn are made up of various activity programmes that are part of the official commemorative Programme. The Plans are the following:
Projects must be in line with the commemoration’s Plans and programmes and must be submitted via a standard file to the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Projects will be assessed – in accordance with the criteria set out in the Plans and programmes – by the Executive Committee of the 4th Centenary, which will decide whether to include them in the official event Programme or not.
The National Commission does not provide funding. Projects wishing to participate in the official Programme must include a realistic financial plan to ensure their viability.
The Law on State Budgets for 2015, in its fifty-fourth additional provision, establishes that the celebration of the “4th Centenary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes” is deemed to be an event of exceptional public interest for the purposes of the provisions in article 27 of Law 49/2002, of the 23rd December, on the taxation of non-profit entities and tax incentives for patronage. The duration of the support programme for this event is from the 1st of January 2015 until the 30th of June 2017.