San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arts and Culture Holiday Wish Lists

The year in Costa Rican art and culture mirrors the year in the pages of The Tico Times Weekend section: a hodgepodge of offerings impossible to summarize in a brief, late-December roundup. That tremendous diversity signals a robust health for culture in this country.

Without minimizing the good shape in which the arts find themselves here, we asked a handful of movers and shakers in Costa Rican culture what would be on their holiday wish lists for 2007. (Our list of interviewees was by no means exhaustive.) Their desires for arts and culture in the new year, in alphabetical order, follow:

“To see the Little Theatre Group form a small, professional, year-round Englishspeaking touring company. Its mandate would be to take plays for adults, plus children’s theater productions, to regions throughout Costa Rica that have little or no cultural activities, and if they do, they are rarely in English.”

–Ann Antkiw, vice-president,

Little Theatre Group

“A better mix of public and private financing would allow us to improve the quality of our offerings. There are private foundations out there, and individual museums such as ours can better look for ways to work with them.”

–Ernesto Calvo, director,

Contemporary Art and DesignMuseum

“I’d like a better musical infrastructure and the ability to serve as an extension to all parts of the country. That means a bigger budget. As a public institution, we are funded by taxes, so the Costa Rican people pay our budget. We would like to be able to return that investment to all of them.”

–Alberto Carballo, director, National

Musical Center (oversees National Symphony, National Youth Symphony, National Lyrical Company, National Dance Company, National Choir)

“My wishes for the new year? That the artists and those of us involved in culture work as a coordinated team; that together we make the important and varied cultural offerings of the country more visible; that we achieve in a responsible manner the 1% of the national budget dedicated to culture; that we include in the ministry’s to-do list more and more people and diversity in more regions of Costa Rica.”

–María Elena Carballo,

Minister of Culture

“It begins with kindergarten and runs through university. I’d like to see a system that integrates arts and culture into education at all levels to facilitate a true appreciation. That’s my wish.”

–Eric Fernández, graphic designer,

Jacob Karpio Gallery

“For the past two years, acting upon a request from … the community of Yorkin in (the Caribbean region of) Talamanca, Art Works Project, in collaboration with Central School of Speech and Drama in London, has been putting the lives and legends of the Bribrí community into dramatic form. Next year we hope to establish a children’s theater group in Yorkin. My wish is for this project to flourish not only as a means of disseminating Bribrí culture to a wider audience, but also by helping to generate much needed income for the community as a whole.”

–Caroline Kennedy, director, Art Works

Project; president, Little Theatre Group

“I would love to see the old Variedades Theater in downtown San José converted into a Costa Rican cinema center. It was one of the first movie theaters here. The project has been talked about for years and it would be wonderful to finally see it happen.”

–Mercedes Ramírez, director,

Centro de Cine

“It is a question of bigger budgets, but really we need more spaces for cultural events around the country. I hope that all our cultural institutions will continue to thrive just as they have done this past year.”

–Samuel Rovinski, director,

National Theater

“Despite my deep and passionate love for all things Hollywood and frivolous,my holiday wish list would include increased support for Costa Rican music, art, theater … Artists are doing incredible things here, and it would be great if they got more attention from others who live here – particularly radio DJs and others with cultural sway – rather than B-list U.S. stars who pass through.

“But if you know of any B-list U.S. stars passing through, please let me know.”

–Katherine Stanley,

TT Star Watch columnist


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