Habana Espacios Creativos: Cultural convergence for entrepreneurship

It is crucial to consider alternatives that contribute to cultural recreation and creative entertainment in order to advance in the pyramid of cultural development. In the current Cuban scenario, there are still not enough enterprises that provide real social and cultural added value, allowing them to join the framework of creative industries.

What alternatives are envisioned, then, as a response to this issue? If we take the European Union as a reference point, we find experiences capable of fostering the creative ideology of the Cuban people: creative factories. This paradigm belonging to the creative industries model responds to the social and cultural needs of the surrounding community. Such facilities become hosts of exhibitions, galleries, shows, conferences, debates and workshops. But their function goes much further than that, as they are centers of cultural coexistence, where young artists receive that initial “boost” that leads them to success. In the EU, creative scholarships are provided to support such endeavors.

The reality of a creative factory is not so far away; it is not necessary to go to the European continent to visualize this model and secure a scholarship. The first experience of this kind in the country is located in the Historic Center of Old Havana: Habana Espacios Creativos (HEC).

A not-so-distant reality

Habana Espacios Creativos is a pioneer in the field of creative scholarships, and in close connection with this initiative, the space’s main function is to welcome young artists and provide them with material, training and institutional support to enable them to carry out their projects.

However, the initiative’s role as an accelerator of ideas and promoter of cultural ventures is not its only social contribution: the entity provides a space for coexistence and creative realization, through the offer of an active cultural program managed by its team, together with its network of allies, supported by the spaces, supplies and facilities of the center. The initiative stands out for its hosting of cultural activities linked to different artistic expressions. Even in the current stage of the pandemic, its activities have not ceased, to become a center that transmits culture and inspires creative industries.

Creative scholarships

Highly motivated young artists with talent and innovative ideas have the opportunity to find a home at Habana Espacios Creativos. The scholarships are open to young people between 18 and 35 years of age who submit original proposals in the areas promoted by the center: performing arts, visual arts, design, music, new media, photography, audiovisual media and literature. Since the end of 2020, the center hosts young artists awarded the first grants.

The initiative provides participants with the facilities and creative equipment required to undertake their proposals. This includes a large, well-lit space, with a quiet and agreeable working environment. The scholarship holders have access to the training and advice necessary for their professional and personal development; and, above all, they have the support of a young, united and skilled work team, which is the center’s greatest strength.

Maurice Haedo Sanabria is one of the young people who obtained a scholarship in the new media category, with his innovative project “Plástico Leal.” Aged 35, Sanabria tells us that HEC has hugely contributed to his professional development, offering training, experimentation and the exchange of experiences in a very enriching way. Regarding his project, he notes that HEC is a cultural and educational platform for people like him to turn their ideas into real and successful projects. This is possible, he tells us, because of the great opportunities that the center offers. For him, the most important aspects are: the timely visibility it awards projects, and the possibility of establishing connections with institutions, organizations and other local actors for the exchange of resources, both material and knowledge. He explains that although it could be a future private enterprise, “Plástico Leal” is currently seen as an educational and experimental platform that can contribute to the promotion of the recycling culture in many private enterprises, and perhaps provide them with the means and ways to do so.

Accelerating creative businesses?

As part of the functionalities of Habana Espacios Creativos as a generator of cultural convergence, is the coordination of a series of socially beneficial projects that reach the entrepreneurial population. Completing a scholarship at the Cuban creative factory certifies the possibility of promoting a business or social project of great ingenuity. The institution also provides other significant opportunities:

  • Ideas can materialize through the availability of equipment and supplies for creative action that the scholarship holders acquire.
  • The training spaces are not only aimed at scholarship recipients, but also at all interested local actors.
  • The center’s cultural programming is active, inclusive and responds to the cultural needs of the surrounding community.
  • The center establishes relationships with related institutions in the international sphere, facilitating the exchange of experiences between the Cuban artistic community and other cultures.
  • The center establishes alliances with private enterprises with a creative profile, and builds relationships with them through community project, while providing a space for them to participate in training workshops and other events.

One of the creative enterprises that has forged significant alliances with Habana Espacios is “Beyond Roots,” which has continuously participated in activities promoted by the center. Some have been related to the “Rutas y Andares” project, which sees tours of the historic center of Havana, while others have been an important source of training and creative formation for this business.

Undoubtedly, Habana Espacios Creativos is a leading center in providing training, education, exchanges and complementarity with other disciplines to young entrepreneurs in the city. It has all the tools to help make a successful business or a social project of great potential. The institution is a hub of creativity and knowledge, with a spirit that unquestionably generates a synergy conducive to great projects of innovation and entrepreneurship.

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