One year after hurricanes, University spearheads arts development project in Puerto Rico


(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A jet takes off in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico on Oct. 2 in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Northwestern is spearheading a project to jumpstart arts activity in Puerto Rico following the natural disaster.

Ally Mauch, Summer Managing Editor

Northwestern is leading a two-year arts development project in Puerto Rico funded by a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a University news release said.

The Puerto Rican Arts Development initiative will involve ten emerging and ten established artists from the island. The project began in August — nearly one year after Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating hurricanes — and “aims to stabilize the financial security of community-based artists and jumpstart arts activity,” according to the release. Communication Prof. Ramón Rivera-Servara is leading the initiative.

The emerging artists will be paired with the established artists as mentors and they will participate in training sessions on various topics, such as portfolio development and workshop leadership. The project will also include artistic residencies at NU and other colleges and universities, a commissioned project in Puerto Rico and a final project presentation, the release said.

One of the mentors for the initiative, dancer and choreographer Nibia Pastrana, said he was grateful for the support.

“To be an independent artist or collective on an island that is threatened by debt and budget cuts in its educational and healthcare system is a huge challenge,” Pastrana said in the release. “This of course was made more visible post-hurricanes, and like the rest of the Puerto Rican community, artists were and are still affected by the political disaster following the storms.”

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