Ten years ago, the Catalan and Balearic governments created the Institut Ramon Llull as a tool for the external projection of the Catalan language, the culture expressed by it and all the cultural output of these two territories that does not have a strict linguistic basis. It is also a tool to consolidate and deepen relationships between the different territories that share this language. These are inevitably long-term tasks, which require insistence and continuity. Ten years is not enough time to speak of goals achieved, but it is enough to show results and begin to answer questions. Results and questions about the suitability and effectiveness of the tool, of the Institut as an instrument for greater goals. Results and questions also about the mission itself, about whether with these years of experience the entire goal seems realistic and achievable: to make a language and a culture visible; to increase the links between the different territories where Catalan is spoken; to associate Catalan culture and language with the ideas of aesthetic diversity, quality and ambition; and to ensure it is present in arenas where the contemporary world is debated metaphorically.
Those of us who today have the honour of directing it are not, in all likelihood, the most suitable people to assess the tool’s suitability and power. But we can proclaim that the work of many people, of all the previous management bodies, of all the teams that have worked in it, the commitment of the institutions, the complicity of civil society, the enthusiasm of the people at the IRL, have in these ten years constructed a solid legacy that now allows us to take a leap forward. With the calmness of spirit that speaking about the legacy bequeathed gives, one may say that the IRL has been, and is, a useful and prestigious tool that is well regarded at home and abroad, which has carried out a host of initiatives – visible and invisible, grandiose and small-scale – that have left a valuable mark. From Frankfurt to Venice, from Avignon to Kassel, from New York or Washington to London, Paris or Berlin, via the 150 universities all over the world that teach Catalan, the IRL’s work has made its presence felt and left its mark. To all of you, thank you.
But the most important thing is not the result of the tool. No matter how sharp the tool may be, no matter how much enthusiasm and experience those of use who at one time or another have taken part in it may invest in it, none of this would be much use if it were not backed up by a powerful and creative culture, one that is diverse teeming with life. In order to tell the world that we are an important culture it is necessary above all else for us to really be an important culture. And the result of ten years’ projection abroad and the reception we have had tells us that we are: that the projection of the culture is a ‘mission possible’, because there is enough depth and diversity. That the goals are attainable. Complicated, long, they are never exhausted in one action nor do they ever come to a full stop. But they are attainable. All of them. Those of projecting ourselves outwards. That of making connections within. That of being visible, because there are things to see. That of being able to go out into the world listening, but speaking too. Learning, but teaching too. The people who have made the Institut Ramon Llull can be proud of the job done. But the IRL’s chief asset is not the institution itself, but rather the culture that it has the job of projecting. We shall go out into the world to talk about it. But we shall go with our heads held high, because we know that there are things to say.
Director of the Institut Ramon Llull (2012)