Photos by the author
The Manuel Galich Hall of Casa de las Américas hosted the sessions of the III Taller de Gestión Cultural: Comunicación y Periodismo, (3rd Workshop on Cultural Promotion and Journalism), held on September 19-21 with agenda focused on the role of cultural promoters, managers and communicators in today’s world.
The introductory words were pronounced by Maité Hernández-Lorenzo, director of Communication and Image of the hosting institution, and Darsi Fernández, lawyer at Fundación Autor. Shortly after 2 P.M. the same day, different panelists and lecturers took the floor, among them Lenay Blasón Borges, Doctor in Communication and Information and researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
Blasón Borges, who worked at Casa de las Américas until 2003, is also advisor and consultant in Communication for Development. In her words she underlined the fact that a career like Social Communication – which did not exist in Cuban universities prior to 1991 and has graduated a limited number of students – still lacks doctrinal and theoretical support, a phenomenon – she said – that appears in many countries.
The debate that followed her conference revealed, not only the need to have a larger number of specialists, but the absence of appreciation and lacks that usually burden the exercise of this profession. The speaker explained how cultural organizations (a term that includes museums, theaters, houses of culture and other entities with institutional or state financing) demand results in the short term, when very often they lack the time and resources required to carry on an advertising campaign in due form.
As an example of how much can be done from the point of view of promotion and cultural management based on personal initiatives without material or financial endorsement, the website Isliada.com, was presented to the participants. This project was carried out from Cuba with the purpose of spreading the work of our young and less young writers, the majority of whom have no access to the Internet in order to promote their work. On behalf of the staff spoke journalist and narrator Rafael Grillo, editor of El Caimán Barbudo, who referred to the purposes and structure of the site.
Other speakers were Norberto Codina (director of La Gaceta de Cuba), Yinet Polanco (editor-in-chief of La Jiribilla) and Joaquín Borges-Triana, editor of El Caimán Barbudo and Doctor in Cultural Sciences in the specialty of Music.
Yinet Polanco shared the experience of La Jiribilla, first Cuban cultural publication conceived for the Internet. She pointed out the challenge it was for its founders – which still exists for those who make it – to weekly update a magazine that pretends to cover all aspects of Cuban culture, with permanent sections and columns that most of the time are difficult to keep updated due to the dynamics of the digital world, in contrast with the slower rhythm in which our journalists and intellectuals produce their work.
The session on Thursday, September 20 began with the conference held by Aurelio Alonso, sociologist and essayist, founder of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Havana, who approached a theme of undoubted current interest: “Economic Transformations in Cuba: A Socio-Cultural Glance”. There followed a panel aimed at exposing the inner aspects of cultural communication in Cuba today, with participation of poet and essayist Víctor Fowler, researcher Danae Diéguez, Hailem Carrasco (from Suenacubano) and Pepe Menéndez (from Casa de las Américas).
Lastly, the closing session was characterized by the exchanges that took place following the lecture by Nora Gómez Torrez, professor, essayist and researcher at the Asociación Hermanos Saíz, who referred to the interrelation between communication means and popular music. In an attempt to delimit the role of the communicator as cultural promoter and social actor, Desiderio Navarro (director of Centro Cultural Criterios), Sandra Álvarez (author of the blog Negra cubana tenía que ser) and Tamara Roselló (from Martin Luther King Memorial Center) contributed their points of view.
Already past 7 P.M., the Che Guevara Hall of Casa, as closing of the event, hosted a concert by a young interpreter described by the specialized critics as “the new talent of alternative Cuban music”, Danay Suárez, accompanied by her group.
This 3rd Workshop on Cultural Promotion and Journalism contributed a group of interesting conclusions:
Complex circumstances surround the work of our cultural promoters, managers and communicators. There are multiple aspects to their work, resources are scarce and there are notorious attitudes of indifference, precisely when self-financing begins to appear as an option for the cultural institutions with a view to alleviate the burden of their financing for the Cuban State. The debate will never be enough in the search of alternatives, and other spaces like this one will be required to boost it. The workshop held at Casa de las Américas has pointed out the way.