Municipal grant fund for culture and the arts – FOCUART (Phase 1)

1. Context

La Paz - Chuquiago, is a plural and diverse city. Social groups, generational groups, residents from other municipalities or Bolivian departments, as well as LGBTQ organizations, feminists, environmentalists, rural organizations, people with disabilities, and a diverse number of urban cultures all coexist here. It is quite traditional as a result of constant migration and interaction between the countryside and the city.

As a result, art and culture can be the main bridges to intercultural dialogue and social innovation.

2. La Paz and Culture

The municipality of La Paz has included culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. For this reason, the policy is part of the Autonomous Municipal Law on Strengthening, Safeguarding, Developing, and Promoting Cultures and the Arts. Chapter IV establishes FOCUART, as well as its operational strategy with the co-management approach under the Intercultural Citizen Council for Arts and Culture Planning (CONCIPCULTA), the Fund’s resources, and its 6 lines of action for improvement: Promotion of the arts and new technologies; Development of living community culture; Strengthening cultural spaces and cultural heritage; Promotion of research and training; Developing networks, mobility, cultural outreach, and local audiovisual development.

The project arose out of a joint initiative between civil society organisations and the autonomous municipal government of La Paz. It addresses the lack of a public policy focused on transparent, democratic cultural promotion.

The project arose out of a joint initiative between civil society organizations and the Autonomous Municipal Government of La Paz. It addressed the lack of a public policy that is focused on transparent, democratic cultural promotion, intercultural dialogue, and regional decentralization that is neither hierarchical nor promotes a static view of culture. The initiative is a response to Agenda 21 for culture, which focuses on: the promotion, maintenance, and expansion of cultural goods and services, as well as universal access to them; expanding the creative capacity of citizens; the richness of linguistic diversity; demand for art; the search for new forms of expression; experimentation with new languages; and the reframing and interaction of traditions.

This policy is directly linked to reducing inequality, both in and between countries (SDG 10). It works to contribute to empowerment, promote inclusion, and encourage the work of creative professionals built on intercultural dialogue.

3. Project goals and implementation

3.1. Main and specific objectives

In 2020 alone, plural and democratic cultural participation increased by at least 100%. This means more intercultural dialogue, which improved quality of life for all residents.

Specific Objectives

  1. To increase the plural and democratic participation of citizens in cultural actions.
  2. To create spaces for intercultural dialogue, and promote access to arts and culture activities, all with democratizing and decentralizing approach.
  3. Promote knowledge management both inside and outside of the municipality.
  4. Link other areas of GAMLP with the FOCUART projects aimed at promoting social innovation.

3.2. Project development

Participating Populations

Direct Participants 

Local artists, cultural groups, and civil society organizations from decentralized areas throughout the municipality, as well as other groups that aim to carry out initiatives and social transformation
through arts and culture proposals.

Indirect Participants

  • Local groups made up of people from decentralized areas.
  • Other municipal governments, local media, groups that promote the initiative.
  • Other areas of the Autonomous Municipal Government of La Paz.

Main actions developed

Specific Objective 1

  • Launch 3 public tenders (2018, 2019, and 2020) for carrying out its 6 lines of action for improvement. Bases validated by CONCIPCULTA.

  • Implementation of 192 projects throughout 2018 and 2019, which were selected by the evaluation committees for each objective.

Specific Objective 2

  • 550 presentations, workshops, and other arts and culture processes. 10% were developed in the municipality’s decentralized areas, mainly in cooperation with the “Real Neighbourhoods” program, which served some 27,500 people.

Specific Objective 3

  • Create a space for shared learning within the framework of the Bolivian Local Government Network for Culture to promote the exchange of experiences and replicate them.

Specific Objective 4

  • Connect this project with the “Real Neighbourhoods” program, involving the District Centres and the Community Cultural Centres in decentralized and peripheral areas.
  • Promote workshops for cultural design projects to disseminate FOCUART public tenders aimed at populations with a high level of social risk.

The goal was to increase plural and democratic cultural participation by at least 100% in 2020. This means more intercultural dialogue, which improves quality of life for all residents.


  • Living Community Culture Network
  • Swiss Embassy in Bolivia Culture Fund (Support for the formation of the Municipal Governments Network)

Other Partner Governments

  • Bolivian Local Government Network for Culture: Formed by the municipal cultural authorities for the cities of La Paz, Potosí, Cobija, Trinidad, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Sucre, Tarija, and El Alto.


  • The municipality’s inadequate administrative apparatus and its management of cultural processes like FOCUART, which had to be re-imagined for a more institutional rollout.
  • In 2019, the country’s social conflicts a£ected the development of the project.


  • The number of projects benefiting from FOCUART increased by 30% from 2018-2019.
  • The Living Community Culture Projects and Municipal Film Grant Development Fund became part of FOCUART in 2018, bringing in an amount of 1,060,000 Bs. (2015-2017). The precursor to FOCUART received a leap in funding to start 2018 with 494,000 Bs, more than the previous 3-year period, and which has continued to increase.
  • FOCUART’s financial resources have increased significantly since the time that public policy did not exist. This has resulted in a greater number of projects being carried out, with a plural and decentralized approach.
  • The knowledge management space under the Bolivian Local Government Network for Culture has made it possible to share the FOCUART project model across the country, leading to the creation of two consultant processes in two municipalities (Santa Cruz and Sucre).

4. Impact

4.1. Direct Impact

  • Increased local government budget for the promotion of cultural actions and culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
  • Reconsideration and new proposals on the administrative apparatus of the Municipal Department of Cultures.
  • La Paz is the leading municipality and a national benchmark for culture in Bolivia thanks to the Municipal Law on Cultures, which outlines the FOCUART program.
  • 82% increase in the budget earmarked for civil society cultural projects
  • 42% increase in the number of supported projects, compared to before the public policy existed.

4.2. Evaluation

A progressive impact assessment system is in place, and it has 4 stages:

  1. Baseline: Surveying and standardizing information from the 2015 - 2017 period
  2. Monitoring and follow-up for projects implemented through FOCUART (Regular and final reports for each project with quantitative and qualitative information)
  3. Systematization of management data for two things: Proposals received and proposals implemented.
  4. Project evaluation at two intervals: at the halfway point and at the end, contrasting project monitoring data with a baseline.

This policy is connected to SDG 10, which is focused on reducing inequality both in and between countries. This is clear from the actions outlined for this goal in Culture 21 Actions, based on the principle that cultural participation can contribute to empowerment and promote inclusion.

4.3. Key Factors

The first vital element of this project is the co-management, co-responsibility, and citizen participation approaches in the design and implementation of the public policy represented by CONCIPCULTA. This complements the design and release processes of public calls for tender that promote plurality and citizen participation. The second key part of the project is the Grant Fund for democratic, transparent, and sustainable access under the 6 lines of action for improvement. These will promote plurality and citizen interaction, in which the municipality becomes a mediator for achieving real change through a decentralized approach.

4.4. Continuity

The sustainability of this public policy is ensured by the fact that both the spirit of the mechanism and its operating structure are a part of municipal legislation. Additionally, the experiences from the first phase of this project serve as a national framework. Indeed, it is being considered in the design of public policies on culture in other municipalities throughout the country.

5. Further Information

La Paz was a candidate for the fourth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (November 2019 – May 2020). The jury for the award drew up its final report in June of 2020, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by Dario Andrés Zaratti Chevarria, Municipal Secretary of Cultures, La Paz, Bolivia.

Contact: azaratti (at)

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