Guatemala – The Cultural Capital of 2015

by Alba Carrasco

Guatemala City will begin this year 2015 as the Cultural Capital of Latin America! This is an award that every year the Union de Capitales de Iberoamerica –UCCI— awards to one special candidate city that can demonstrate a pertinent story and offer a full agenda of cultural events in recognition of the development of a unique cultural scene and strong national cultural institutions.

Among the objectives of conceding this award to Guatemala City are improving the sense of cultural belonging of Guatemala’s citizens; putting Guatemala on the map as a city committed to culture Guatemala; and enhancing cultural tourism. However, ultimately the principal aim is to help to foster cultural institutions and strengthen the development of a long-term cultural strategy for the city. This will undoubtedly be a difficult goal to achieve in a few months, and will require a more sustained partnership between private and government institutions over 2015 and beyond.

As host of the Ibero-American Capital of Culture, Guatemala City has some tough challenges ahead of it for 2015 and will have to create a calendar of quality and inclusive cultural events including dance and musical theatre; workshops; lectures; and exhibitions. Just as important as the quality of the cultural agenda is the fact that the events must be accessible and open to the general public, in order to ensure that it won’t just be the tiny majority of Guatemala’s wealthiest citizens that will be able to enjoy the programme or that, once again, people will only receive news of events through well-placed adverts.

What the real impact of these events will be is yet unknown, and will most likely stay that way for a good few months into 2015. Most likely, different people will judge it with differing degrees of praise and criticism. However, what is already clear is that this is a great opportunity not only for Guatemala City but for the whole of Guatemala – especially from the perspective of its citizens – to highlight the importance of a real commitment of our leaders to the development of ambitious cultural policies that can improve access to culture and help to create more critically and socially responsible citizens for the country.


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