The closure of the Instituto Cervantes has been celebrated by some and lamented by others. It seems to me that those who celebrate its demise reason from a political perspective whereas those who lament its closure do so on cultural and educational grounds.
Cultural institutions such as the Cervantes work as a conduit for the cultural diplomacy aims of the state in question. In Spain, the Instituto exists for the promotion of Spanish culture as a mechanism that helps Spain achieve its “soft power” goals internationally. This will certainly involve moving beyond the promotion of culture and language towards “nation branding”. At the end of the day, the Instituto is part and parcel of the “Marca España” project. Given Gibraltar’s political history, many are understandably wary of Spain’s projection of power, whether of the soft or not-so-soft variety.
Most of your readers, however, will also appreciate the richness of the Spanish language and culture. The gradual demise of the Spanish language within our society is not something that we should rush to celebrate.
Gibraltar’s multi-cultural society, and geographic location, means that we have an extremely rich mix of languages, or at least easy access to them. Is it time for Gibraltar to have its own school of languages? We are blessed with having English, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and Hindi already spoken within Gibraltar, and close to proximity to the Maghreb also means that we can add French to the mix.
Food for thought?
John K. Baw.