Cultural managers spoke to Diario Libre about the challenges and approaches that this new government must assume in different aspects of the arts

The new administration that will lead the destinies of the Dominican Republic under the mandate of Luis Abinader and the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) starting August 16 has advanced some appointments in key positions.

The cultural area will have a Minister of Culture, Mrs. Carmen Heredia, replacing Eduardo Selman.

Heredia, who has held important positions as director of the National Theater, Fine Arts and the National Ballet, has the challenge of assuming the position in the midst of the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 because it makes it difficult to execute the work plans that she intends to develop with the team that will accompany her.

His big bet, as he advanced in an interview with Diario Libre, is the decentralization of the Ministry of Culture and working closely with the state cultural centers spread throughout the country.

But there are other challenges from diverse cultural sectors that expect to see fulfilled in this administration.

Diario Libre talked with several protagonists linked to dance, theater and plastic arts and projected the expectations, challenges and approaches of the Ministry of Culture.

Creativity in the middle of COVID-19

The cultural manager Freddy Ginebra, creator of Casa de Teatro, is aware that any performance requires a budget.

This is how he expressed it: “Without money there are no miracles”. Ginebra regrets that the coronavirus pandemic has added to this reality, so he appeals to creativity.

“We are facing something that humanity did not count on. Now we will have to be creative. This is not the work of one government, but of all of us, regardless of flags,” he reflects.

For Freddy Ginebra a great step would be the approval of the Patronage Law. “If the Patronage Law is approved and put into effect, the burden will be lightened. The private sector can and should join the cultural growth of our country. I hope so.

In a general sense, he hopes that the government of Luis Abinader will focus on health and the economy.

“Health and the economy. And then everything else. Without health it is impossible to dream again. We have to overcome this crisis and then continue with our work,” concludes the standard-bearer of culture.

Pedro Julio de la Rosa Quezada, president of the Dominican Federation of Art and Culture, hopes that culture will be seen from an inclusive point of view, and that the gender approach will play its role.

He asks not to forget the communities that are carriers of traditions, as two of our rhythms, bachata and merengue, were declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. He specifies that the communities that are the bearers are responsible for basic sustainability actions in their communities and regrets the lack of public policies in this regard.

Quezada also bets on a modern vision of culture by the new authorities. “Culture is a sector of the economy that generates wealth. I hope that this will be seen from August 16,” he says.

Pedro Julio is another one who raises his voice for the Law 340-19, of Patronage. “I think the government should promote this legislative initiative. I think that the government should promote this legislative initiative. It is a way to link the private sector with public policies to improve the conditions of artists,” he told Diario Libre.

And he adds: “I think that Luis Abinader’s government will make a great management if it takes into account these factors, which have been ignored by the past incumbents. Doña Carmen will have all the collaboration to make this happen”.

The choreographer Marianela Boán, who resigned as director of the National Company of Contemporary Dance, asks to defend the real value of art.

The professional of the dance fixed her position on the topic: “The culture is intimately bound to the soul of the nation and it influences essentially all the instances of the human development. The Ministry of Culture must defend the real value of art; not allow it to be reduced to the decoration of political events or simple entertainment”.

He continued by stating that the State’s artistic companies and institutions have been dismantled, among other absurd reasons, under the pretext of prioritizing artistic education.

He lamented that dancers are being formed that later will not have space to develop. “It is not possible to train artists who will not later have the means to develop a professional career in the country, since they cannot be part of the National Companies, where it is impossible to hire them, appoint them and provide them with adequate salaries,” the veteran dancer argued.

She said that not having a budget prevents them from making plans, producing, performing, touring nationally and internationally, inviting teachers and choreographers, having administrative and productive staff and adequate facilities.

According to Boán, the Ministry “must stop being a piggy bank that the state uses at will, without allowing it to develop coherent plans with adequate autonomy.

Marianela Boán argues that art cannot be brought to the masses, nor to the national system of education, “if it is assumed that the art that is produced must be mediocre and that which exists on a popular and folkloric level is not properly valued”.

For the contemporary dancer trained in Cuba and who has created more than 50 choreographic works, it is necessary for the state to promote the development of independent initiatives, through creative grants, applying the law of patronage, offering competitions, residencies, and more. “These are the challenges for the new government,” he concludes.

While Carlos Veitía, director of Ballet Concierto Dominicano, appreciates the appointment of Carmen Heredia because she has been a united person and concerned about the arts who has given much support to dance.

The choreographer understands that in the National School of Dance, directed by Marianela Saillent, in spite of having a capable directive, she needs more attention.

He comments that they should meet with the current directors and the new ones to evaluate the situation of the physical plant. He considers that the place should be conditioned.

He says that they have to make many adjustments in the National Ballet. “Armando González, their director, has tried to do a very dynamic job, but a lot of action is needed,” says Veitía.

He assures that this company has nine members on the payroll and artistic restructuring is needed. He talked about updating the study program.

For Veitía, the National Company of Contemporary Dance (CNDC), requires more attention, without forgetting the Dominican Folkloric Ballet.

As the director of a private company, he refers that they can collaborate with the state sector to help educate through dance.

In summary, he comments that what is needed is the criteria and willingness of the new authorities to resolve the issue of pre-budget, personnel and sufficient places.

In the plastic arts

Miguel Gómez, president of the Dominican Association of Plastic Artists (Codap), demanded more support from the Ministry of Culture. “We are hopeful that things will work better,” he said.

He values Heredia as the new minister because, in his opinion, she has the experience and has directed cultural institutions.

Something that this administration should have pending, in Gómez’s opinion, is the National Biennial of Visual Arts and he recommends increasing to four awards instead of one, for bigger winners. “I hope the biennial is maintained,” he emphasized.

In addition, Miguel Gómez criticized the fact that they have taken away the few resources they gave Codap as an institution.

A theater law

The theater producer Juancito Rodríguez considers that the main thing this administration must face is to increase the salaries of the teachers and to revise the positions, as well as the Law of Patronage, which in his opinion only needs one section and, of course, a theater law.

“The theater law is needed to make the performing arts and the arts in general sustainable, so that producers and actors do not have to work so much,” he said hopefully.

Rodriguez insists that more effort is needed. “The arts in general must be strengthened, the painters, musicians, dancers

He argues that the costs of the theater continue to rise. “A play that cost you 1 million pesos in 2019 today can cost you 1 million 500 Dominican pesos.

For Juancito Rodríguez it is very difficult to make art in the country, so he asks for more support.

In addition, he hopes that more plays will travel to other towns in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, actor Claudio Rivera said he agrees with the cultural policy presented by Luis Abinader’s government program and hopes it will be implemented.

Among the initiatives is to bring more culture to the neighborhoods, a greater linkage of tourism and Dominicans abroad, strengthen the incentive program for cultural promotion with the so-called “Cultural Projects” and support the promotion of reading.


Credits: Diario Libre