The Comission that organizes in 1979 the Congreso de Actividades Flamencas in Sevilla is the germ of what we nowadays know as la Bienal de Flamenco. Under the impulse of the Federación Provincial de Peñas, a board is created, integrated by the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla. Inside its administration, José Luis Ortiz Nuevo, Delegado de Cultura y Fiestas Mayores and first Director of la Bienal, is the great promoter and ideologist behind a project that intends to relate flamenco to other expressions such like poetry, plastic arts, theater or cinema.
This first edition is celebrated between Semana Santa and Feria, beginning 6 and ending 21th April 1980 and featuring a poster created by artist Joaquín Sáenz. A thrilling contest is hosted by the Teatro Lope de Vega, with Calixto Sánchez winning the first Giraldillo del Cante. The programme features Manuela Vargas, Mario Maya, the Orquesta Bética de Sevilla, Enrique el Cojo, Chano Lobato, Nano de Jerez, Juana la del Pipa, Rafael Romero, Rosita Durán or Miguel Vargas.