The municipality has reduced the spending on La Mercè festival by 10 percent (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The reduction in spending by 10 percent , almost €3.6 million will result in fewer activities. Speaking during a presentation of the festivities, culture ministry, Jordi Martí launched the Mercè Street Arts Festival (MAC), the use of Mariá Cristina Avenue as the mainstay of the musical activities and the incorporation of the Canódromo Meridiana stage. In total there will be 300 free activities for all ages in thirty locations (in 2009 there was 600), however this is also down to the fact that the festival this year falls on a Thursday, so it will last for only four days compared with the five or six when the eve of the festival falls early on in the week. The festivities which begin officially on the 23rd in the Saló de Cent with the architect and poet Joan Margarit opening the festival and end on the 26th with a piromusical finale. This year the invited city is the Senegalese city of Dakar, whose artists will perform on the main stage of the Teatre Grec.
According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 released today by the World Economic Forum, Spain falls to the same level as Puerto Rico (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). The report reveals that the Greek and the Spanish economy, which falls nine places to 42, have suffered the biggest cuts. Spain's classification now sits at 42 out of 139 economies in the world, and has fallen to the level of Puerto Rico and Barbados. The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) measures on a scale of between 0 and 7, a total of twelve factors, which include among others, infrastructure, environment business, labour and product markets, financial market, health and primary education, I+D and absolute size of the market. The document stated: "The decline is attributable largely to a growing negative management of labour and financial markets, besides the level of business sophistication of the country." Jennifer Blanke, one of the authors of the report, stressed that Spain is suffering from a "serious" fiscal imbalance, especially as regards public expenditure, in addition to problems of unemployment, one of the worst policies for hiring and firing (137th place out of a possible 139 worldwide).Spain is again situated at one of the worst positions in the European Union with only Portugal and Italy behind it. Germany, Finland, Holland, UK and France are all situated in the top 20 positions.
Education officials will offer English courses at a distance from February (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Education officials will offer distant learning courses to an initial 2,000 students, but places and languages will be expanded. Starting next year, it will be possible to take the first three levels of English through the Institut Obert de Catalunya (IOC). The courses will be done as distance learning but part of the evaluation will require some one-on-one. Josep Francé, director general of professional teachers, artists and specialists, explained that the "strong demand" for learning English and the saturation of the present schools has led them to provide this opportunity. The first class will only be for about "1000, 2000 students, in the futures this offer will grow." The places are open to all citizens of Catalunya. The IOC has registered this year, an increase of 14,000 in comparison to last year with now nearly 20,000 students.