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Cultural Center: Enhancing the heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean

The Inter-American Development Bank’s Cultural Center, which opened its doors in 1992, reflects the idea that culture is an integral part of economic and social development.

Housed in IDB headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Center promotes and exchanges the artistic and intellectual heritage of all 46 country members of the Bank and helps clarify their unique cultural personalities to the public.

The Center has forged alliances with Washington’s cultural community, featuring joint activities with the National Gallery of Art, the Washington Opera, Smithsonian Associates, the Library of Congress, and the American Association of Museums and universities.

Among the goals of the Center are to feature activities from all its member countries from Latin America and the Caribbean in all programs by the year 2002: exhibitions, concerts and lectures, and cultural promotion in the field.

The Center is also planning to create a cultural development foundation to contribute to the sustainability of the cultural sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Activities during 1999

During 1999 the Cultural Center produced 32 diverse events, including art exhibitions, concerts, music workshops and lectures. These activities attracted an estimated 14,000 visitors to the Bank.

  • The Visual Arts Program organized five major art exhibitions, including L'Estampe en France, an important show of contemporary printmaking from Paris, presented in Washington, in honor the 40th Annual Meeting of the IDB Board of Governors (France); this exhibit went later to Brazil to be part of Mostra Gavura in Rio de Janeiro. The other four exhibits featured works from Barbados, Norway, Venezuela, and a selection of 49 of the 1,520 art works owned by the IDB.
  • The Lecture Program presented eleven speakers, including novelists Carmen Boullosa (Mexico); Sergio Ramírez (Nicaragua) on the writer's life; Tomás Eloy Martínez (Argentina) on history and culture; Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Spain) on his most recent book; and Nélida Piñon (Brazil) on the female memory in literature. Carlos Fuentes (Mexico) inaugurated the Cátedra Siglo XXI Lecture Series with Latin America on the Threshold of the NewMillennium.
  • The Concerts Program presented twelve concerts with superb talent, including the contemporary music string quartet, Quartetto Bernini (Italy); baritone Luis Ledesma (Mexico) and Rebecca García (USA) sang classic romantic duets; Grammy Award winning clarinetist Paquito D´Rivera accompanied the Caracas Clarinet Quartet (Venezuela); harpist Ismael Ledesma (Paraguay) played original works on the wooden harp; classical guitarist Berta Rojas (Paraguay) played Latin American composers.

    Also presented was Jorge Enrique Báez (Paraguay), winner of the 1999 City of Asunción Music Competition and the IDB Cultural Center Prize.

  • Four Art and Music Appreciation Workshops were held, including Eros in Vienna (opera) and The Jewish Music of Spain with musicologist Saul Lilienstein; and two art history workshops on Latin American Colonial Art were held with Professor Christopher Wilson.
  • The Center's Cultural Promotion in the Field Program funded 15 proposals for 12 countries in close collaboration with the Country Offices. Areas funded included a rural community project to preserve cultural patrimony (Argentina); creation of a manual on how to motivate hospitalized children with art and creation of a museum shop (Chile); workshops with foreign film makers and education programs for children to overcome violence (Colombia); establishment of a choir with welfare recipients (Costa Rica); and creation of a Children's Gallery for abandoned kids (Mexico).

Other activities were field research on Mayan culture (Guatemala); professional training for Museum personnel (Guyana); research on women in the arts and literary workshops for young people (Panama); computerization of symphonic works by national composers (Paraguay); support to local theater groups to participate in an international dance and theater festival in Lima (Peru); implementation of museum's educational computer center for researchers and students (Suriname); and partial funding to purchase musical instruments for a national youth orchestra (Uruguay).

For more information on the IDB Cultural Center, contact Félix Angel, General Coordinator, 1300 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20577, or call (202) 623-3774, fax (202) 623-3192, e-mail: IDBCC@iadb.org, home page: http://www.iadb.org/cultural/center1.htm.

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