Digital Art #CultureAtHome
1. Guanajuato and culture
The city of Guanajuato was recognized by UNESCO in 1988 as a World Heritage Site because of its beauty and rich history. It is currently the main tourist hub in the region in addition to being one of the main colonial jewels of Mexico.
The Municipal Government of Guanajuato, through the General Directorate for Culture and Education, worked to promote and diffuse local artistic and cultural expressions. The goal is to preserve and promote local culture as well as affirm regional identity through which everyone can manifest freedom of ideas. The initiative also seeks to strengthen the comprehensive education of the population through art, while promoting and disseminating tangible and intangible heritage. The COVID-19 pandemic health restrictions led to an impetus to seek new ways to reach the population of Guanajuato, providing opportunities for artistic groups to disseminate their art, and to mitigate the consequences of the global pandemic.
This #CultureAtHome project was based on the ideas of well-being, health, and environment at the core of the strategic line of actions “Education and Culture for a better future” put in place by the Municipal Government.
The Covid-19 pandemic health restraictions led to an impetus to seek new ways to reach the population of Guanajuato, providing opportunities for artistic groups to disseminate their art, and to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The goal of this project is to ensure everyone’s right to access and enjoy education, art, and culture through virtual activities that strengthen comprehensive education, fun, and entertainment, while mitigating the negative effects that could be caused by the isolation measures implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2.2. Project development
The project developed a monthly virtual schedule that guaranteed people’s democratic access to artistic and cultural services and programs, thus contributing to their appreciation, enjoyment, and defence of the sector. In an effort to achieve comprehensive education, strengthen cultural identity, and ultimately improve people’s quality of life and social peace throughout Guanajuato, 2,659 arts and culture activities and workshops were carried out across various genres such as music, theatre, dance, drawing, painting, and concerts, among others. In total these reached 1,389,430 people, including participants and students on social networks, as well as the populations of community cultural centres in Lomas de Cervera, El Cubo, Santa Rosa, Puentecillas, El Resplandor, Casa del Abuelo, and the Social Welfare Centres of Cerro del Cuarto, Ex hacienda Santa Teresa, and Mineral de la Luz.
One of the activities carried out was the virtual broadcast of 14 concerts of the International Organ Festival, with the participation of renowned professionals from Latvia, Spain, Germany, Argentina, the State of Mexico, Oaxaca, Morelia, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, León, and Guanajuato.
The city also continued to participate in activities related to the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), of which three activities were notably related to COVID-19:
- “Art, straight to your home”, which involved the dissemination of artistic activities through social networks.
- “The First Virtual Young Filmmakers E-Film Meeting” in which young Mexicans made a series of short films, series, and independent feature films on Facebook.
- “The First Modern Dance Meeting” to disseminate the art of local artistic groups and mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
The goal is to ensure everyone's right to access education, art, and culture through virtual activities that strengthen comprehensive education, fun, and entertainment, while mitigating the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
3.1. Direct impacts
The municipal government has been strengthened as a provider of programs that can accommodate a greater number of inhabitants in a synchronous and asynchronous manner as a result of this project. It has also expanded its tools and measures for the promotion and dissemination of education, art, and culture through digital media made available to the population of Guanajuato, implementing actions for their well-being and mental health. In addition to the many activities it should be recognized that large-scale support was ultimately provided by the many citizens who joined the project from their homes to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 isolation measures.
In addition, free art education was offered to people, while local artists had a permanent virtual forum for expression, to showcase their work and maintain an alternative means of generating economic resources for themselves.
As a virtual program, it addresses everyone equally through a lens of respect for diversity, which strengthens equity and equality in a society.
The program “Digital Art #CultureAtHome” is still active today, so the evaluation mechanism being used is focused on the increase in activity, particularly views, on our social media. This shows us the progress we have made towards achieving our goals. The program reached a total of 1,389,430 people.
3.3. Key factors
The success of the project relied mainly in the diversity of cultural activities that were aimed at a broad audience, from children to adults, and which was respectful of the ideologies and beliefs of any person who wishes to enjoy them. Likewise, there is an openness and willingness on the part of the General Directorate of Culture to provide support to those who wish to offer their cultural and/or artistic activities.
The local government of Guanajuato plans to continue the “Digital Art #CultureAtHome” project in order to continue ensuring access to culture for the entire population. There is a strong will to continue encouraging the promotion and dissemination of artistic and cultural expressions in Guanajuato through virtual activities.
The municipal governement has expanded its tools and measures for the promotion and dissemination of education, art, and culture through digital media made available to the population of Guanajuato, implementing actions for their well-being and mental health.
4. Further information
Guanajuato was a candidate for the fifth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (February - June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September of 2022, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.
This report was written by Jesús Antonio Borja Pérez, Directorate-General for Culture and Education, Guanajuato, Mexico.
Contact: jesus.borja (at) guanajuatocapital.gob.mx