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May 2 — Cultura, Graça Fonseca, Lisboa, V Anos XX Pessoas, village underground, VULX5

Graça Fonseca and the ideas that come together in due course

What is a dream but a tangible mirage attainable by an all-in plunge? It’s about betting one or more lives in work that’s still being done and count on the diligent hand of those who want to see it grow strong — and maybe that’s how one can explain the close relationship between Village and Graça Fonseca.

Soraia Martins

Graça Fonseca at Village Underground

Graça Fonseca by André Dinis Carrilho (@princeofcombro)

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that a project, even before it was born, made so much sense for a city. In a time when Lisbon was still slowly opening itself to a social, cultural and touristic, Village was still on Mariana’s mind in such a passionate turmoil she could barely keep it to herself. It was because of that that Graça Fonseca, currently Minister of Culture, read about it amidst the shadow of a wishlist. “I recall seeing an article on a magazine with new year’s wishes from several people, and among them was Mariana and her wish of seeing Village come to life in Lisboa”, she says.

I’m talking of a time before 2014, pre-Village and all, an all-or-nothing of breakthroughs that were starting to emerge in the city and, step by step, mold it into what it is today — even though it’s not possible to describe with the right words a true cosmopolitan metamorphosis that got ahold of the city, for better or worse. Back then, and still occupying the position of councilwoman of Economy and Innovation the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon City Council), she didn’t know the concept or Mariana, but the realm of new projects and up-and-coming business areas for the city, anchored to entrepreneurship and cultural industries and technology and trade startups, were making up ground.

Graça Fonseca by André Dinis Carrilho (@princeofcombro)

“When I read the article, it seemed absolutely fitting to what we were building here”, she recalls. Perhaps thanks to her nature of evident sincerity and total clarity of what she believes in Graça got ahead of everyone else when it comes to interpreting this place. And perhaps due to it Village had the opportunity of being built right then and there because someone powerful believed and still does in what diversity, multiculturality, social respect and good music could do for a city.

Alcântara was already a go, conversations with Carris had already started and Graça kept her unshakeable support during the times that following Village’s construction, “which had this peculiar appearance. Today, people look at this as if it were part of the city, but, when it opened, it wasn’t like that. People forget easily; Lisbon was something completely different from what it is today”.

We can’t talk about coworking spaces in containers and buses, one of Village’s first flagship concepts, without talking about the “very diversified programming based essentially on music and more” that composes this fascinating, almost mythical place, as Graça refers with the certainty of someone who knows, with all the needed certainties of that moment, that the path Village has been coursing through hits the jackpot in many ways. To her, Village “is definitely a cultural project”. Period. “Everything that happens here in terms of culture ends up having an extraordinary effect on people and its relationship with them, as far as appealing to different generations is concerned, the social impact in projects like Acorde Maior” and everything happens here every single day.

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