Unesco recognizes flamenco heritage

Catalan human towers also earn protected status

There was cause for celebration on Tuesday at the Canto del Loco theater in Seville after Unesco declared Flamenco an intangible element of human heritage, including the Andalusian musical and dance art form on both its Urgent Safeguarding List and the Representative List.

Also earning Unesco protection were the human towers, or castells, performed during festivals in Catalonia and El Canto de la Sibila, which can be traced back to the Middle Ages and is traditionally performed in churches on Mallorca at Christmas.

The success came after a concerted effort from several Spanish institutions. In October Culture Minister Ángeles González-Sinde and the Andalusian regional leader, José Antonio Griñán, joined forces in Madridin an effort to see flamenco officially recognized by Unesco. The campaign they laucnhedin support of the initiative was dubbed "Flamenco soy" (or, I am flamenco). The regional governments of Extremadura and Murcia, both of which border Andalusia, also backed the campaign.

This was the second time that Unesco had been lobbied by Spain's cultural authorities for flamenco to be classified in this way, after the first bid was rejected in 2005.