Why (not) Abrantes?

For the 180 Creative Camp, the aim of Canal180 has always been to bring a whole new world to Abrantes, to present the most diverse bunch of artists, amateurs and professionals, create space for dialogue and growth. However, it has also been important to show Abrantes to the world, unveil its unique vibrancy of the colours, tones and landscapes, showcase it within the branches of its possibilities. With some days left for this year`s edition, we have decided to get you to know a bit more of the city through the eyes of a local.

Joana Borda d’Água is an aspiring arquitect and some years ago, when working in her area was not going the desired way, she decided to dedicate herself to something different and so she embraced her family`s project — traditional portuguese drugstore. Located in the historical city centre, Drogaria Nova is a modern vision on an old concept of a village shop.

Abrantes is at the heart of Portugal so it is near to everything, has good connections, diverse landscapes through the influence of Alentejo and Ribatejo regions and then it is very beautiful. We have the historical centre which is the most touristic part of the city, houses with yellow bars that are very typical for our region, a sequence of squares showcasing the diversity of the city. And then people… people of Abrantes reflect a bit of it all.

I now have a special relation with Abrantes, but there were moments in my life when I had a certain rebellion against my own town. I think we all live a bit of it … It gets to a point when we want more movement, a lot of things happening around, we want to enjoy it all and the absence of it revolts us.

When I finished the university, I was thinking that I will be back in Abrantes and there is nothing going on so what will I do there? At the end, it is not quite like this. Maybe it is just us not taking the advantage of what the city has to offer …

When we live in a certain place, we don’t really appreciate the beauty of it and then when someone from the outside comes, something that happens a lot during the 180 Creative Camp, tells us what a beautiful place it is, pointing out some details we haven’t seen… That makes all the difference.

Many times, people ask me why Abrantes? I tell them why not.

All people deserve a city that will offer what they are looking for. There has to be someone that stays to take the advantages of what might appear. That was a bit of what I have tried to do. Working in Drogaria Nova for the last years have proved it — there are people in Abrantes that like it, they want it for their town and value this kind of creative industry … I don’t see this difficulty anymore, being tied up to a psychical restriction of a place. If we know how to use the tools we can reach any place through the social media.

In a small city we have this advantage of having a close relation with people that visit us at the store. There are people that don’t buy things every day, but they come to visit us every day. “Good Morning”, “What have you been up to?”. It makes all the difference. We don’t have just clients, we have friends.

Fortunately, the cultural offer in Abrantes is good and it never got to the point that people would say that there is no offer. Sometimes it just seems like there is none because people don’t join for these opportunities, they don’t take the full advantage of it and 180 Creative Camp is an example of it. It took some three years for people to realize that it happens every year and it is for us to enjoy. It was very different from what they were used to and for many people it was hard to understand it at first.

The question is: will we just offer to the people what they want or will we present something a bit out of what they think they want?

For example music, as almost every year 180 Creative Camp brings portuguese artists that are still not so discovered, there are people that find it different, but interesting. But even if other people don’t go on looking for more of it, they are more awake for other cultural things that might appear. And the activities they do with kids here in Abrantes are amazing. Maybe some kids from this generation will follow artistic fields because of the Creative Camp.

So I think we have public for all of it. This kind of cultural offer should not cease so that people could experience something new out of their comfort zone. That`s how we educate and cultivate ouverselves.

© Ana Bicho
© Matilde Viegas
© Matilde Viegas