‘Opera in the Street’ Receives Support

July 30, 2012 | Print Print |

Fernando Ravsberg

Ulises Aquino, the director of Opera de la Calle (Opera in the Street Company), was satisfied by the statement of support by the National Council of the Performing Arts. Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES — Cuba’s National Council for the Performing Arts, an institution under the Ministry of Culture, gave its support to the cultural project “Opera in the Street,” which was recently questioned and punished by some political and administrative bodies on the island.

The communiqué*, dated July 28, says that “the office of the president of the National Council for the Arts informs that the Lyrical Theatre Company and the Opera in the Street Performances will maintain their activities such as a funded community cultural project.”

That office recognized that since 2006 at the Arenal Cinema and since early 2011 at its current location, this artistic company has staged “performances, workshops for children, activities with educational institutions and social organizations, and activities for children lacking parental protection.”

The statement concluded by saying: “This work has contributed to increased recreational options for the community and for the education of the public” and that “on August 25th the Opera in the Street Company will perform at the Karl Marx Theater.”

Such recognition of the cultural work of Opera in the Street puts into question the accusations of “enrichment” that were used to shut down the premises where they performed and ran a restaurant that allowed for the program’s self-funding.

The National Council of Performing Arts considers the company so important to the community that it intends to continue subsidizing it. The problem is that government assistance is so limited these days that only part of the company’s expenses can be covered.

In any case, Aquino received the news as positive because it “demonstrates that they believe in us as a cultural project and as people.” However the decision doesn’t resolve the basic problem: the funding of the Opera in the Street Company (which before came mostly from their restaurant).
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(*) Information from the National Council for the Performing Arts

July 28, 2012

The Office of the President of the National Council for the Performing Arts reports that the Lyrical Theatre Company and the Opera in the Street Performances will continue their activities as funded community cultural projects at their usual site (on 4th Street, between 7th and 9th) in the Miramar neighborhood in the Playa Municipality.

On that site since April 2011 (and since April 2006 at the Arenal Cinema in that same municipality), this company has carried out artistic performances, workshops for children, activities with educational institutions and social organizations, and activities for children lacking parental protection, as well as having coordinated presentations of other artistic companies. This work has contributed to increasing the recreational opportunities for the community and for educating the public.

As previously announced, on August 25 the Opera in the Street Company will perform at the Karl Marx Theater.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    I am inclined to believe that this bureaucratic blunder was partially reversed due to the negative internacional publicity it received including that from this site Havana Times. Kudos to Circles Robinson for your role in simply shedding light on the ridiculous.

    • Darlene Rivera

      I had the pleasure of experiencing Opera de la Calle at El Cabildo restaurant, and it was outstanding. Some of the performers came out and danced with us after the performance, and it was a lot of fun. We needed to get taxi’s back to our hotel and four of the performers walked us to the place to find taxi’s for our group of 8 to get back to our hotel. These performers did not appear to be about enrichment. The quality of the show was excellent, rivaling anything that would appear on Broadway in New York for $100 a ticket.

      As a tourist, I was happy to pay the $25 CUC they charged, and the troupe clearly made the proper adjustment of the fees to local Cubans living on a meager amount of money. I understood from the people I talked to about the show that university students actually could attend for free. The venue at el cabildo was very pleasant, under the stars, with good service. Our group was very pleasantly surprised.

      The show did in fact support many families. There were 60 performers on the stage in costume with good musical instruments and a professional sound system. The Cuban beauracrats that shut the show down clearly saw the errors of their way, and I agree with Moses that the international press was an important factor in making the Cultural Agency see the light.

      One more thought ….
      The responsible agency and people need to recognize that Cuba is a country in transition, and it will move everyone forward in their living standard by allowing private enterprise that keeps the ideals of the revolution in mind. People should be allowed to follow their dreams and to earn the money necessary to support their families beyond a level of poverty. If more people in Cuba were allowed to contribute to the society in positive ways, the formal economy would be much stronger, the informal economy would decrease, and more Cubans would have the opportunity to feed and clothe their families in a more secure manner.

  • John Goodrich

    I second that thought Moses.

  • Isidro

    To my knowledge this is a case of different interests colliding with each other in Cuba today. It brings back to mind the Esteban Morales affair. Morales was stripped of his status as a Party member and then reinstated a few days later, following his denunciation of “white collar” corruption. As new winds start to blow in the island today, we should be dropping the notion of a monolithic Cuba. Even if its still not noticed at Parliament sessions.