19 03 2011

Santiago de Cuba has a vibrant cultural life. There are at least six venues where you can watch live music every night (and sometimes during the day): Casa de la Musica; Casa de la Trova; Casa de los Tradiciones; Casa del Caribe; Patio de Artex; and Patio de los Dos Abuelos. There are several theatres; several cinemas; several cabaret venues; a fine concert hall; and sometimes there are outdoor concerts in the many squares and parks.

In the last month there have been a series of events to mark the 20th International Book Fair; a week of documentary films from various countries in memory of Santiago Alvarez, a famous Cuban documentary film maker; and this week there is a Festival of Trova (a bit like folk music).

 The problem is finding out when all of these things are occurring. The daily newspaper Juventud Rebelde has a list of things occurring in various cities, every Friday, sometimes including Santiago; the weekly Santiago newspaper Sierra Maestra sometimes has details of events occurring in the following week; the Cultural Department of the provincial authority has a billboard outside of its office with a list of the major events in the coming week; and the various venues have details outside their premises of what is happening. I understand that the local radio stations also broadcasts details of various events, but the radio/CD player in my apartment only plays CDs, so I cannot make use of that.

Therefore, in order to find out what is taking place over the next few days, I have to try and find a local newspaper and tour the various venues and the Cultural Department offices. Even then, it is not easy. During the week of documentary films, the cinemas would have details of what was showing that day, but not for the rest of the week.

I have been here for the annual Caribbean festival La Fiesta del Fuego for each of the last two years; and last year I was here for the carnival. Both of these events last the best part of a week, during which there are shows and concerts throughout the city. However, finding out what is happening, where and when, has proved impossible. For me, it has just been a case of turning up at different venues and seeing what was happening.

In London we have a weekly listings magazine, called Time Out. It has details of every concert, film, play and exhibition being held in the following week. Venues make sure that they inform the magazine of what is happening, so that people will be aware of it. Could there be an opening for an enterprising individual to produce something similar for Santiago? I am aware that there are a couple of web-sites that try to do the same for Havana. Newspapers here cost 0.20CUP (less than a British penny), so the Cuban market would not be very lucrative. However, perhaps among the tourists who visit here, there could be a more promising market. Perhaps the various new private restaurants and casas particulares (bed and breakfasts) would be prepared to pay to advertise?

Somehow, I cannot imagine anybody making a fortune producing such a publication, and I am aware of the paranoia of the Cuban government about anybody producing independent publications, but it would certainly improve the cultural experience both of residents and visitors here.



10 responses

20 03 2011
John Abbotsford

” Festival of Trova (a bit like folk music).”

Trova from the 18thC trovadores of course and to be distinquished from nueva trova born in the late 60’s. I have seen some wonderful acts in Havana.
Do you know if both types are featured Leyton. Act names?

21 03 2011

John, there did not seem to be any big names on, unfortunately – no Pablo or Silvio. I think that it was a mixture of eras.

20 03 2011

THANkS! again , Is it possible when I am in CUBA soon in the beginning APRIl { Sadly , 1 week only ,] Anything you know coming Up CULTURALLY ? Also do you have a phone number for the CULTURAL DIRECION IN TOWN ? ? I could call from my hotel Bucanero, and find out when I am there what maybe is happening In town , Thanks ! Please if you are able to find that number and send it to me .? I would appreciate that very much . Yes I know how VERY tough to find out anything ? I have some Spanish , Not fluent . But certainly enough! love your BLOG ! and many THANKs SARAH

21 03 2011

Sorry, but I am not aware of anything significant happening in April, nor do I have a number for the Cultural Dept office. I’m afraid that you will have to do what I do – trudge around and ind out what’s happening

25 03 2011
Brian Grunté

When you are at Bucanero, ask for Julio, He can help you with almost anything. He is on the entertainment staff and runs excursions to the Casa de la Trova, Artex etc.

25 03 2011

Thank s for TIP about JULIO ,
LEAVING now for SANTIAGO the March# 31
I AM excited !
thank you !

10 04 2011
John Abbotsford

Did you notice that this site lists a few happenings in Santiago?

10 04 2011

Hi John. I was not familiar with that site – it’s a useful one. The group Septeto Contemporaneo, who are appearing at the Casa de la Trova, are excellent. I saw them two years ago. They have a singer who is a dead ringer for Bob Marley. They are normally touring abroad.

17 04 2011
Where to Go in Santiago de Cuba « Tales of the Heroic City

[…] have previously written (here) about the difficulty in finding out what is on, entertainment wise, in Santiago de Cuba. I’ve […]

18 05 2011
Daniel Nordström

Culture in Havana: http://habana.kewelta.cu/

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