The move of the Multidisciplinary School of Dramatic Art (EMAD) It is a long-standing must for an institution that has grown over the decades and has never been able to find the ideal venue since the temporary closure of the Teatro Solís, where it set up its founding facilities in 1949. For years the Municipality of Montevideo (IM) seeks an alternative to the current premises on Mercedes street, and now the administration of Carolina Cosse is looking for a new building.
The mayor authorized last week for the commune to begin the acquisition process of the construction of more than three levels belonging to the Kehilá, the Israelite Community of Uruguay. The building on Canelones and Río Negro streets is valued at almost US$ 10.5 million –according to the appraisal of the Cadastre and Avualúos Service– although the mayor determined that the amount to be offered will not exceed US$ 3 million.
La Kehilá laid the foundation stone in December 2021 to erect its new headquarters in the Punta Carretas neighborhood, as part of an approach to its community that was settling on the coast. The president of the community, Susana Grimberg, celebrated then that with this “a sense of continuity and transmission” of the “legacy for future generations” was printed.
consulted by The Observer Regarding the conversations with the mayor for the current Kehilá headquarters on Canelones street, Grimberg limited himself to saying that “everything is very in its infancy” and that in February they will continue with meetings. The IM maintained that the “opportunity” to buy that building stands as a “very suitable option for the requirements” of the EMAD, given the “development of its academic activity” with lines of training in acting, theater design, postgraduate courses and master classes.
The Urban-Territorial Projects sector of the commune analyzed that the construction, crossed by the eighths of the sidewalk, is divided into three levels, with a subsoil for activities “that require large areas that can be subdivided” -There remains, for example, a synagogue-, a area for dynamics of “representation and scenic art very well connected with the common spaces and the street”Y “plants with good lighting and ventilation for teaching classes“.
“The place was too small for the expansion that the school has had over the yearsbecause in addition to the traditional academic offer of acting and theatrical design, a continuous training program with a fine specialization within them has been brought to the careers”, he declared to The Observer the new director of EMAD, Laura Pouso.
The head of the institution said that with its 200 active students, plus another 150 who are finishing their cycles and other open courses, the central building on Mercedes street is being “transformed”, but they are forced to “resort to other services of the Culture area of the mayor’s office to complete the academic offer with peace of mind”.
Photo: Leonardo Carreno.
Old headquarters of the Israelite Community of Uruguay
The commune states that its offer of no more than US$ 3 million will mean a “great opportunity to acquire” the property. Far from being the first time that it seeks an alternative to the headquarters on Mercedes street –which has been in operation since 2004–, the commune already had on the table during this period the possibility of establishing the EMAD in the old skeleton from San José street behind the Executive Tower.
The seven-story giant that the Argentine engineer Miguel Dayán left unfinished in the 1980s passed into the custody of the commune’s Department of Culture in 2021, but was ruled out as the EMAD headquarters because its building conditions were not even known. Years ago, at the beginning of Daniel Martínez’s term, the mayor’s office also considered the possibility of acquiring for this purpose the old bank on Cerrito y Zabala (Ciudad Vieja) which, despite the posters that still announce it, never became the headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism by decision of former Colorado minister Germán Cardoso.
Since the temporary closure of the Teatro Solís in 1998, EMAD –founded with the same acronym in 1949 at the impulse of the Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu and the Colorado senator Justino Zavala Muniz– spent two years in the Astral Theater of the Association Israelita Zhitlovsky (Durazno and Barrios Amorín) and then by the Alliance Française building (Soriano and Zelmar Michelini).
Already in 2001 he settled in a six-story building on Cuareim street that had never been thought of as an art school. Santiago Sanguinetti, who in 2016 would become the director of EMAD, told The Observer that that old house “did not have the ideal conditions”, such as the lack of a tiled floor or a drawing room.
Already in 2008 the institution –renamed two years later by the administration of Ana Olivera– emigrated definitively to the headquarters on Mercedes and Eduardo Acevedo streets. Sanguinetti explained that “it is a space that is getting too small for all that the school is growing” – from classrooms that are “very close” to each other to the direct exit to a busy Mercedes with a bus stop next to its entrance. –.
With the recent signature of Mayor Cosse, the commune is going for a new headquarters in the Center.