San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Open-Air Art Festival on the Move, Again

For the second year in a row, the Open- Air Art Festival organized by Galería Ulises has been displaced from the eastern suburb of San Pedro to Curridabat, farther east, because of a permitting scuffle.

The event, in its 12th year, traditionally took place in San Pedro’s Plaza Roosevelt, but was denied a permit by the Montes de Oca Municipality last year and again this year. At the time of writing, the festival planned to pack up its wagons and move to the plaza in Curridabat’s José María Zeledón neighborhood for its scheduled Dec. 10 opening, according to Ulises Castillo, the event’s organizer.

Castillo, owner of Galería Ulises art gallery in San Pedro, said the Montes de Oca Municipality was unhelpful during the permit application process.

“There’s too much bureaucracy to have cultural events in San Pedro,” he said, adding that the event will most likely remain in Curridabat next year unless the government changes.

A member of the commission that approves cultural events in San Pedro, Carmen Elizondo, told the daily La Nación, “In the past, there was more leniency because a cultural event wasn’t considered as what it is: a lucrative event in a public area that never generated revenues for the municipality.”

The commission, which was formed two years ago, requires that festivals pay the municipality in advance to hold their events and wanted nearly ¢10.5 million (about $19,000) for the Plaza Roosevelt space, an amount Castillo said he is unable to pay, La Nación reported.

The Open-Air Art Festival has been declared an event of cultural interest by the Culture Ministry, and has attracted some of the biggest names in the Costa Rican art scene, including Leda Astorga, Rodolfo Stanley, Felo García and Rafa Fernández (TT, Nov. 24, 2007). This year, more than 400 sculptors, painters and photographers will be displaying and selling their work.

The festival is set to run through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. For information, contact Galería Ulises at 2280-9121.

–Elizabeth Goodwin


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