NICE: an initiative to promote cultural activities in rural Puerto Rico

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A report by Andrea Rodés for Al Día.

The founders of Nuevo Impulso Cultural Eminente (NICE) believe in the power of art as a tool of social transformation in Puerto Rico.

Dianerys Calderón, José Carlos López and Andrea López had a dream: to bring art and culture to their hometown, Naranjito, a municipality of Puerto Rico located in the central region of the island.

Thus, this trio of cultural managers united to create NICE, Nuevo Impulso Cultural Eminente, a non-profit organization that seeks to develop the arts in the central zone of Puerto Rico. The group’s goal is to help boost the economy and social interaction of the inland regions by organizing public events, like the one planned for Saturday, Aug. 18, in the public square of Naranjito, a city that was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria last year.

The event has been called “Cultura en la Periferia” (Culture in the Peripheries) and will start with a book presentation: “Madera,” written by Naranjiteño author Fen Rivera.

In a press release, Dianerys Calderón explained that Naranjito will be the platform for NICE’s literature activities in the region. The group hopes that the adjacent municipalities will give way to other branches of the arts such as painting and drama, among others, as reported in Instinto P.R, a local media outlet. Some of the municipalities they want to work with are Barranquitas, Toa Alta, Comerío, Bayamón and Corozal.

The first “Cultura en la Periferia” event in Naranjito will also include performances by local artists, such as Plena Adentro, a band that plays “plena,” a genre of chant and dance native to Ponce, Puerto Rico;  Dúo Sal y Azúcar, Plena Combativa and Mosaico Academy of Arts.

NICE will also try to work with local schools in order to strengthen the role of arts during the educational process.

Calderón regrets that cultural activity in Puerto Rico is only focused on a few areas, especially in the metropolitan area of San Juan, leaving the mountain towns on the side.

“During the months of summer, we will try to build the necessary alliances with Naranjito and nearby municipalities to ensure that our activities attract an audience and fulfill a real demand for culture in our region. Our main goal is to maximize access to art in the island,” said Calderón, as reported in EFE.

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