Culture as a means for the reconstruction of the social fabric, Querétaro

1. Context

Querétaro has been a cultural heritage site since 1996, encompassing one of the most significant historical monument areas of Mexico. The cultural variety includes food, languages, traditions and intense artistic activity. Its location as a communications link between the north and centre of the country make it a receiving point for multiple artistic and cultural influences. It has grown having to respond to the growing needs and the consequent deterioration of the social fabric. With a population 20 times greater than in 1950, it has 801,940 inhabitants. It has grown from a city ejecting migrants to become a receiver of immigrants from various states especially in the last five years, and a place of transit for Central American migrants. The Ministry of Sustainable Development estimates that on average, around 40 families reach Querétaro per day. The multiplicity of factors that converge in the current scenario leads to the culture approach being the basis of sustainable and integrated development framed in a participatory cultural policy, the social responsibility of art and linkage to community development.

In 1995, the Mayor, Lic. Jesús Rodríguez Hernández, created the Municipal Institute of Culture. (ICMQ) The main goal of the initiative was to rescue and combine the great cultural, historical and artistic wealth, with the creation of a body responsible for the strategic process, promoting the participation of different levels of government and society. The creation of the ICMQ relates to the importance of implementing cultural policies for authorities and residents of Queretaro. In 1996 the city was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, acquiring an important commitment internationally. Today, the Institute has maintained a strong commitment to citizen participation, strengthening the arts and cultural community through programmes of support in financing, free use of cultural spaces, cultural diffusion and free admission to all events to ensure the right of access and equality.

The population of the state of Queretaro has grown by 30% over the last decade. 23.1% of the population comes from other states in the country and 0.7% from other countries. 327,840 residents are of exogenous origin. Along with this, the crime rate increased by 24% from 1997-2013. We can see the consequent deterioration of the social fabric in a population where all community ties are lost, generating uncertainty and apathy. The rapid development of the city requires strategic planning and vision from the institutions, because cultural dynamics are transformed and proportionally, levels of violence and insecurity are affected.

In Queretaro there was also an issue of territorial equity because the cultural action of the municipality was concentrated in the Historic Centre, thus forgetting the other more popular areas. Today the ICMQ should ensure the people exercise their cultural rights, supported by participatory processes and principles of equity and respect for diversity. The cultural policy is aligned to the Municipal Development Plan 2012-2015, which establishes as a priority, the offer of cultural spaces where the social fabric is constructed with a vision of progress, justice and equality.

Culture is a vital part of public policies for all the administrations. it is indispensable in social prevention, public security, peace, and productive and economically active sustainable development.

2. Queretaro and culture

The Institute of Culture has existed since 1995 and its actions have remained continuous over time despite the changes of government. Its cultural policies are supported in the regulation authorised on March 8, 2011 presenting it as part of the considerations: "... it is a decentralised agency attached to the Municipal Presidency [...] its main objective is the promotion and dissemination of culture as a strategic position for the development of the municipality of Queretaro." The Municipal Development Plan 2012-2015 provides a boost to the cultural development of the municipality of Queretaro, strengthening cultural identity, heritage preservation, education and artistic training, with broad social participation as one of the primary objectives. The Municipal Development Plan 2012-2015 gives a new impetus to the cultural policy of the ICMQ.

In 2013, it is established through a reform to the regulation adopted on May 28, 2013 that the Institute of Culture is responsible for ensuring inhabitants of the municipality of Queretaro the exercise of cultural rights in order to promote the strengthening of identities, heritage preservation, arts education and cultural training and access to the enjoyment of the most diverse expressions of culture and the arts, based on participatory processes and principles of equity, efficiency and respect for diversity. A new definition of culture is also adopted in its regulation, defined as what enables social organisation, in the sense that, through a network of interpretations of reality and forms of communication between people who share memory, codes and readings in historical contexts, and which is specifically and socially structured. It refers to processes that generate symbolic systems, values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and material goods that make society life possible. In the First Government Report (2013) of the current administration, it reads: "It is a fact that culture is a medium that should be encouraged to enhance the capabilities of individuals, thus promoting their integral development, so it is located among the essential public policies that must be guaranteed to the population as a mechanism to promote social cohesion."

Culture and Governance - The ICMQ has a Council of Culture that was restored in 2013 and is composed of personalities of high standing, representing artists, intellectuals, cultural managers, federal institutions and universities. It promotes projects concerning national and cultural programmes, and likewise, it is linked to programmes of other municipal offices. It has also developed a programme to promote reading in partnership with state agencies, civil society organisations, promoters and cultural managers. Through partnerships with the federal government, they have funded remodelling, renovation, equipment and facilities of public spaces with artistic and cultural vocation.

Culture, sustainability and territory - There is a constant programme for public spaces, festivals, exhibitions, theatre, dance, concerts, workshops, lectures, book presentations, etc.; with children's, youth, adults and seniors programmes, and all events are with free admission. The local arts community, serves as the protagonist of the programming, so regular meetings are held with the same, in addition to mechanisms for financing its artistic and cultural projects. The ICMQ is developing a strategy to decentralise cultural activities throughout the municipality towards the most popular areas.

Culture and social inclusion - This institution takes culture and art to the most vulnerable regions around the city through events, meetings, groups, cultural events, cultural centres and public libraries. Likewise, community projects to care for specific audiences were supported, such as photography workshops for the blind which has professionally trained blind photographers, disseminating their work and knowledge generated in the process. The Video Down project was also supported through which a workshop to teach children with Down syndrome will be held, on the creative possibilities of the image, movement and sound in a video. The evening programme, Bacconnier, is also carried out, which is twice a week in one of the busiest squares of the Historic Centre offering older adults a place to dance.

The cultural policy of querétaro is developing a strategy to decentralise cultural activities throughout the municipality towards the most popular areas.

3. Objectives and implementation of the project

3.1. Main and specific objectives

The main objective is to promote the ICMQ as promoter, to ensure the people, the exercise of cultural rights, based on participatory processes in order to build a community and rebuild the social fabric.

The cultural policy emphasises the responsibility of ensuring the exercise of cultural rights to municipal residents based on equity and participation in order to promote the strengthening of identities, the preservation of cultural heritage, artistic education and training as well as access to the enjoyment of the various expressions of culture and art. The strategic priorities, programmes and projects are designed from these rights. Its slogan, WITH CULTURE WE CREATE COMMUNITY, clearly represents the project.

3.2. Actions and results

The ICMQ has different centres of cultural expression: 2 theatres, 1 gallery, 1 museum, 2 cultural centres, 8 houses of culture, 9 public libraries and 6 artistic groups. As well as the cultural council, composed of artists and developers, public servants from various levels of government, there is the municipal columnist and President of the Commission of Education and Culture of the City. Its purpose is to establish a close, honest, truthful, thoughtful and purposeful dialogue, in which they analyse the cultural policies of the municipality, the programmes and projects as well as the challenges and obstacles facing the Institute. It has 140 employees on the payroll and 50 people hired by fees. The overall budget is $ 38,680,618 which includes payroll, operating costs, service spaces and projects. In addition, federal resources were managed for an amount of $ 6,915,000 pesos.

In terms of strengthening identities, the Community Cultural Development programme was implemented, through which young people are sought out in order to train them as cultural promoters and integrate a Collective Cultural Community which, in turn, is linked with groups of neighbours from their integrated community in Animation Neighbourhood Cores to coordinate and manage the performance of Cultural Days in Community Culture Points. In 2013 they created 8 Cultural Community Collectives with a total of 85 members and 73 activities. A workshop on urban murals was held in each of the seven delegations, with the participation of 84 artists and the creation of 7 murals. In 2013 in Hercules, the Cayetano Rubio delegation, 110 murals were painted covering 3,000 m2 in a process of dialogue between young artists, neighbours, authorities and a company that supported them by financing the paint. In 2014 in collaboration with the Festival of murals 'Nueve Arte Urbano', 125 murals were done in the delegations of Cayetano Rubio, Felipe Carrillo Puerto Santa Rosa Jáuregui and Felix Osores with the participation of 200 young artists and benefiting 120,000 citizens.

The Cultural Days programme began in the Delegations, where a weekly meeting is carried out in each of the seven delegations. This project has integrated delegates, houses of culture, libraries, professional and amateur artists, neighbours and youth advocates, a permanent festival of high impact on shaping the public, the appropriation of spaces, equity, participation and reconstitution of the social fabric. 4 choral set-ups were created, based on a methodology for the creation of choirs. Through auditions in public schools and a rigorous artistic process, the groups are formed in vulnerable areas. Workshops in vocal technique, music theory, percussion, language and body language are taught. The process involves parents and has a significant impact. The Cultural Centre La Vía, is known for the Wednesday programme at La Vía, as a space linked to the surrounding community in which neighbours, schools and associations participate, nestled in the surrounding neighbourhoods. In the Old Railway Station the programme in the Rincón de la Trova was created where fortnightly concerts are performed in this genre. In 2013, 54 activities of community identity, historical memory and artistic expressions were conducted with 2,425 attendees.

On the issue of preservation of cultural heritage, they are in the process of creating the Railway Museum located in the former station for which the first stage of museology is being carried out. El Museo del Cerro de las Campanas is the only interactive museum about the history of Queretaro and in 2013, it received 113,427 people. On the issue of cultural education, the 8 cultural houses and 9 libraries have been highlighted by the opening of close links with surrounding communities through various strategies of sociocultural animation and dissemination. They conducted 742 activities including workshops, artistic performances, lectures, exhibitions, book presentations and festivals with 132,105 attendees. In 2014 through an agreement, the Enrique Burgos Cultural Centre joined the Institute of Culture which had been administered for 19 years by a home-owners association. The centre continues its cultural vocation and it is now home to specialised urban and pop art workshops as well as a School of Artistic Initiation.

In the field of art education, Queretaro was the first municipality in the state to start up the Schools Programme of Associated Artistic Initiation of the National Institute of Fine Arts and in coordination with the Institute of Culture and Arts of Queretaro. Three schools are in operation, offering workshops to 209 children. In 2015, operations were initiated in 4 more schools, which is why Queretaro is known as the town with the most artistic initiation schools nationwide. In 2014, in coordination with the National Council for Culture and Arts, 2 graduate courses (Cultural Management and Visual Arts) and a workshop on Cultural Journalism were conducted, all with internationally recognised specialists training 130 artists, journalists and cultural promoters. Regarding access and enjoyment of the most diverse expressions of culture and art, programmes are based on a policy of free entry into all events, reinforcing the axes of equity and social participation. In 2013 six festivals were organised, with 242 activities benefiting 125,450 people. The programme includes festivals with 90% local artists that makes them unique nationwide. It also supported the implementation of 18 festivals organised by independent groups and public institutions.

Queretaro was familiar with the problem of territorial equity because the cultural action of the municipality was concen-trated in the historical centre. today they are working to ensure that the people exercise their cultural rights, supported by participatory processes and principles of equity and respect for diversity.

As a public training strategy that is based on consistency and quality, 11 programmes are being carried out with attention to different audiences, most of them take place on a weekly basis and include film, dance, and music... In 2013, in the City Theatre and Cineteatro Rosalío Solano, 566 activities were conducted and they received 74,403 people. In the Municipal Gallery and public squares, 12 temporary exhibitions were mounted, through partnerships with major institutions. The 6 artistic groups have conducted 1,862 activities.

Each year the artistic community projects are supported; in 2013, there were 61. Festivals, artistic productions, artistic performances in delegations, international tours, musical productions, productions of books and art workshops are organised. Queretaro Lee is an initiative of individuals and institutions interested in promoting reading in Queretaro. It is a tool for the coordination and dissemination of spaces and events, where any network user can learn, recommend or share their experience with reading.

The project has integrated delegates, houses of culture, libraries, professional and amateur artists, neighbour and youth advocates, a permenant festival of high impact on shaping the public, the appropriation of spaces, equity, participation and reconstitution of the social fabric.

4. Impacts

4.1. Impacts on the government

Consolidation of the Institute of Culture as an entity that must guarantee the exercise of its cultural rights to the inhabitants of the village under the principles of equity and participation, interpreting the culture as a way of life that allows certain human groups give meaning to their existence, through the structuring of beliefs, norms, habits, values and symbolic practices, in certain historical and social contexts. They refer to processes for developing aesthetic creativity, enhancing skills, stimulating communication, the preservation and transformation of the world, in order to configure and build identities.

4.2. Impacts on culture and cultural workers in the city

Strengthening of links within cultural actors of the municipality between artists, cultural promoters, public and private institutions, territorial reconfiguration of cultural and artistic events that take into account Queretaro in its entirety. Transformation of young people into cultural promoters in their communities, strengthening ties with friends and neighbours.

4.3. Impact on the city / territory and its population

Culture is considered a transforming agent of society, an indispensable factor for overall development. Culture is considered as a vital part of public policies for all administrations. It is indispensable in social prevention, public security, peace and sustainable development that is productive and economically active, whose contribution is important in economic development. In 2013, the ICMQ performed 8,597 activities with 1,340,099 participants and a total of 21,047 direct beneficiaries (teachers, promoters, artists and cultural managers).

4.4. Cross-disciplinary impacts

In 2013, the National Crime Prevention Programme (PRONAPRED) which involved the three orders of government (federal, state and municipal) was created. Those participating on behalf of the Municipality are: The Secretariat of Public Security, Municipal Institute of Sport, Municipal Institute for Youth, Secretariat of Municipal Public Services, Municipal Institute against Addictions, General Coordination Against Addictions, Municipal Training Institute, Municipal Institute for Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination, Municipal Institute Women and the Institute of Culture of the Municipality of Queretaro, implementing, transversal programmes in areas called polygons, which are defined according to the analyses that identify areas of major criminal incidents. Such programmes are in a process of social acupuncture aimed at crime prevention. Furthermore in 2014, Queretaro invested 21 million pesos in order to dignify the Xoles Park in an area with an upward trend in violence, as a municipal programme a transversal programme was implemented, involving the above agencies promoting the peaceful coexistence of different local actors.

4.5. Continuity

The ICMQ is part of the organisational structure of the Municipality as a decentralised body, has its own rules of procedure adopted by the council and administrative and operational staff, which integrates 140 people on the payroll and 50 people per contract, managing 24 sites of cultural infrastructure and 6 artistic groups. The project is currently active, all the above actions are performed continuously throughout the year and will be held at the same time during 2015. In this area there are two priority projects, one on heritage preservation (creation of a museum of Mexican regional dance) and another on Cultural Community Development, the choral set-ups in the delegations; in both cases the trusts will be created to ensure the organisational, technical and financial sustainability of such projects.

5. Other Information

The City of Queretaro was nominated in the first edition of the "UCLG International Award - Mexico City - Culture 21" (January-May 2014). The Jury for awarding the prize produced its final report in June 2014 and asked the UCL Committee on Culture to propagate this project as an exemplary practice.

Application approved in September 2014.

Good practices published in October 2014.

This record was written by Mr. José Antonio MacGregor Campuzano, Director General of the Institute of Culture of the Municipality of Querétaro.

Contact: jose.gregor (at), antropomac (at)


Social networks: Facebook: Cultural Institute of the City of Querétaro


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Culture as a means for the reconstruction of the social fabric, Querétaro