When, almost 20 years ago, we started O Espaço do Tempo, with the energy of adventure that contained no doubts, we never imagined that 20 years later, we would be leaving the Convento da Saudação, due to the danger of collapse, threatening the lives of those who use it daily. Not that we were unaware or unwarned, simply 20 years in our minds were 20 years that left no room for disasters. The goal of rehabilitation was a greater cause, and in the face of the challenges we felt immortal.
In 2018, the convent, since long terminally ill, finally began to give way to the weight of time and the several Governments that insisted on forgetting it. The fall of the Montemor Studio vaulted ceiling, where so many artists created pieces, came to expose the declining state of a monument we were trying hard to sustain. And it did so with a violence hard to describe, finally triggering the inevitability of having to do something about it. So, we were finally heard by the Ministry of Culture. And since October 14, 2018, when this happened, all our energies went, to not only draw attention to the urgency of this recovery, but also to find alternatives that allow O Espaço do Tempo to fulfil its mission.
And somehow, we manage to find the solutions in our small but big town of Montemor-o-Novo. After 6 months of good memory, were we temporarily occupied the former Santo André Hospital, located in the historic center of Montemor, a unique space with a wonderful architecture that allowed us to maintain all our residences and organize the Portuguese Platform for Performing Arts in the best conditions, we had to move to another location once again. Our team was untiring and resilient. The support of the local city council was essential and that of friends as well.
From this season onwards and during the years that will take place the rehabilitation works of the Convento da Saudação, we will be in the old premises of the Magina workshop (auspicious toponym) an emblematic industrial building in the city center. In this space, we will recreate all the creative nest conditions that have always defined O Espaço do Tempo. An area of almost 1000 m² where we will have 2 large studios, both equipped with motorized technical grid, sound, light, video and wifi, an inevitable kitchen and social area, 16 rooms divided by 4 residence areas, an outdoor space with a small cafeteria and a technical warehouse. We will also keep our Blackbox, an informal space that has given birth to some of the most extraordinary works of our contemporary scene. Of course, nothing can compare to a 17th century Dominican convent with a view over the Alentejo hills, but knowing that we will return there, we will continue to devote our energies to the functioning and vitality of this new alternative space.
And because the life course of institutions, particularly cultural ones, is never linear, all this is only relative, inevitable growing pains, part of a constant questioning and relationship with reality. An ever changing reality and, in our case, with needs for creation, production and experimentation that defy us every day. Understanding these signals and trying to respond to them is a much bigger challenge.