Barcelona Metropolitan has been a part of life here since June 1996. Co-founder Richard Schweid looks back over the past 150 issues of the city’s magazine in English.
It seems like an obvious idea now, but some 13 years ago when we decided to start a free city magazine in Barcelona it had never been done before. What little was published here in English either had artistic pretensions or, worse, a kind of humour we called the “guiri sneer”, which consisted of making fun of the locals, and which we swore to avoid. We thought the city would support a magazine that would inform, advise, serve and reflect the international community, something useful and interesting for all the city’s angloparlantes, be they 19 year olds just arrived for a year to teach English, or people who had lived in Barcelona for 30 years.
If we had known how financially demanding a magazine is we might have looked for other jobs. The printed word is expensive, and printers are insistent on being paid before they’ll work. Fortunately, we were naive. We managed to stay afloat and the magazine began to grow. People picked it up, told their friends. We began providing an important place for readers to find what they needed, be it a job, a place to live, a friend or any of the multitude of services and products offered by our advertisers. In addition, we began to provide people with good reading in English about the many, many facets of life in Barcelona.
Our interviews have ranged from one of the first discussions with Pedro Almodóvar about his Oscar-winning film Todo Sobre Mi Madre (while he was filming it), to one of the last with Tete Montoliu, the internationally-known Catalan jazz pianist who died shortly after our interview. We have interviewed every mayor since we spoke with Pasqual Maragall in 1997.
At the same time, we have provided a place where freelance writers and photographers could make a little money, and that’s a good thing. We have insisted from the beginning on paying for the work we use. Before long, we began attracting an interesting mix of professional writers and photographers. Some of our writers make their livings writing for foreign publications, while others have day jobs and write in their free time; some of them have been writing for us virtually since we began. The great thing about photographers is that, unlike the writers, they don’t have to speak English, so we were able to give work to some talented local photographers who have gone on to become well known here.
Over the past 150 issues, we have tried each month to publish a magazine with something for everyone in the wide and wonderful international community here. Now we’re increasing our reach and accessibility with a greatly expanded website, but our aim remains the same and we intend to continue doing what we have done for the past 150 issues: serve as a bridge to and from the city where we live.