Professors and students of Puerto Rico’s School of Plastic Arts (Escuela de Artes Plásticas) in Old San Juan have been vocal in demonstrations this past week in their attempt to save this revered public institution, where a great number of Puerto Rican artists have been formed.
Protests began when significant budget cuts were announced at the end of April. The school, attended by 500 students, would be completely crippled by these cuts. Many fear that the school’s closing is imminent. Professor Grisselle Soto Vélez, from the Department de Art Education, explained, “We suspect that this is an attempt by the Senate and the Government to privatize the school; with which we do not agree and we will not allow.”
Yesterday’s demonstration was led in support of the school’s dean Marimar Benítez, professor Rosario Romero, and administrator Wanda Cruz, who were present at the hearing to discuss budget cuts for the next fiscal year. While protestors huddled under umbrellas, an equal number of police officers oversaw the demonstration under torrential rains.
The financial situation is similar for other public cultural agencies such as the Conservatory of Music, the Music Arts Corporation, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and the Luis A. Ferré Center for Fine Arts, whose budgets have decreased dramatically.
For full El Nuevo Día article (in Spanish) by Alba Y. Muñiz Gracia, see http://www.elnuevodia.com/continuanlasprotestasenprodelasartes-566799.html
For current posts and videos on the demonstrations, see Teo Freytes’ reports at http://msa-x.msa-x.org/