San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arts Festival Brings Color to La Sabana

Twice as many people attended last week’s International Festival of the Arts than were expected, with approximately 400,000 people enjoying the street theater, free concerts, dance performances, puppet shows and other arts that filled the city from March 17 to last Sunday.

“We are exhausted but we are happy,” said general producer Daniel Aisemberg. The biannual festival was centered for the first time ever in La Sabana Park, with other San José venues hosting isolated events (TT, March 24).

While cynics feared a festival in La Sabana that lasted into the night would be a criminal’s paradise, Aisemberg reported that theft was not a problem.

“We proved that art conquers fear,” he said. “It was a true success. Not only because of the quantity of people, but because the participants, the artists, have told us they are very content.”

All was not perfect during the festival, however. A three-meter-tall banner, part of a group of nine, painted by Costa Rican artist Cali Rivera was stolen Monday from the park. Festival officials have agreed to pay for the banner, which Rivera said costs $9,000, but the angry artist said he doesn’t want the money – he wants the piece back. Festival authorities are hopeful it will be returned.

The Municipality of San José this week set about the task of cleaning up the park. Aisemberg hopes La Sabana will be used for future events, including arts festivals, though he said this will require the collaboration of various institutions and political will, which depends on the next administration.


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