From Discovery to Collaboration: The Impact of Art Residency Programs

Os Mixtos and a Redefinition of Rural Coliving Community


Imagine a remote village nestled in the breathtaking Galician mountains, where time seems to stand still. This is Meaus, home to a unique and innovative project. Os Mixtos is not just a rural coliving village; it's a vibrant community that aims to revitalize rural areas, foster creativity, and redefine the concept of cultural tourism. Led by Inesto’s founder and cultural professional, Paola Balduzzi, Os Mixtos is reshaping the way we think about rural living and the potential of these overlooked destinations.

The Essence of Os Mixtos

At its core, Os Mixtos is a regeneration project that seeks to breathe new life into rural areas and combat depopulation. It is a place where locals and international artists and cultural professionals come together to create, explore, connect, and learn. The project is driven by the belief in the power of hybrids, embracing the mix of Spanish and Portuguese cultures, and welcoming people from all over the world.

Glitters on Paco during a community event

The Story of Os Mixtos and the Couto Mixto

Os Mixtos is located in Meaus, a small village in the Galician mountains that was once known as Couto Mixto. This microstate, which existed for over 700 years, was a melting pot of Spanish and Portuguese cultures. Inspired by this heritage, the founders envisioned a place that celebrates the beauty of diversity and fosters collaboration among artists and cultural professionals.

The Role of Paola Balduzzi and Culture Moves Europe

Paola Balduzzi, Inesto’s founder, artist, and cultural professional hailing from Italy, plays a pivotal role in the development of Os Mixtos. Her expertise in design and visual arts has been instrumental in shaping the project's brand identity, community guidelines, and visual identity. Paola's work in Meaus goes beyond aesthetics; she is deeply committed to creating a sustainable and inclusive space that celebrates the local culture, empowers the community, and promotes cultural exchange as a regenerative movement. In Meaus, she has been instrumental in designing the guidelines for the new cultural and touristic destination. Through Culture Moves Europe she had the possibility to spend in Meaus two months where she complete the planning and design of the new coworking space.

During a collective event held in Meaus, Paola designed and painted a mural, transforming the walls of the new shared coworking space into vibrant canvases. These captivating geometric murals serve as a compelling example of art's remarkable ability to rejuvenate spaces and foster a deep sense of pride and belonging among the communities.

Helena, Paola, and Stefano with the mural in the coworking space

Redesigning Tourism: From Destination to Community

Os Mixtos represents a paradigm shift in the concept of tourism. Rather than being just passive observers, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the community and actively contribute to its development. This approach transforms rural areas into vibrant cultural destinations, offering unique experiences and fostering meaningful connections between locals and guests. Experience after experience, Inesto and Vecinos de Meaus, the local association are attracting young workers and volunteers around the concept of rural coliving. Last year they create a strategy for different projects, from art residencies to restoring an old house and opening the first coworking space, hosting Erasmus training courses, and networking with Galician and international partners.

Details of the murals

Redesigning the Flow of Tourism

With its emphasis on cultural tourism, sustainable practices, and community engagement, Inesto is redefining the flow of tourism. The project seeks to divert tourists from overcrowded and mainstream destinations towards off-the-radar rural locations. This shift not only reduces the strain on popular tourist hotspots but also provides opportunities for remote communities to thrive economically and socially.

Paola, Javi, Martina, and Stefano during a community event

Creating Sustainable Workspaces

In addition to its cultural tourism initiatives, Os Mixtos operates as a rural coworking space. The newly renovated houses and gardens serve as workspaces, providing a serene and inspiring environment for artists, freelancers, and remote workers. These workspaces are designed to blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings, allowing individuals to tap into their creativity while enjoying the beauty of the Galician mountains.

Adela, Paola, and Javi during the inauguration of the Escuela exposition

New Guidelines for EU Policy

Projects like Inesto highlight the need for new guidelines and policies at the European Union level to support the revitalization of rural areas. By recognizing the potential of rural communities and investing in initiatives that promote cultural tourism, the EU can create a more balanced and sustainable tourism landscape. This shift in policy can lead to the regeneration of remote areas, job creation, and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Os Mixtos is not just a rural coliving village; it is a movement that seeks to redefine rural living, cultural tourism, and community engagement. Led by Inesto, the project demonstrates the power of art, collaboration, and sustainable practices in revitalizing rural areas and fostering meaningful connections. By promoting the unique beauty of a community and the cultural heritage of remote destinations, these projects pave the way for a more inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant future for rural communities.

This project became true thanks to the support of the European Union through Culture Moves Europe and Goethe Institute for Artists and Cultural Professional individual mobility.

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