Culture is not an expense, it is an investment: the Tico Artists’ cry against Budget cuts

Demonstration placed black ribbons on doors and gates of cultural centers that will be affected

In mourning, dozens of artists marched the morning and afternoon of this October 24th through the streets of San José against the cut of ¢ 4,126,307,837 that the Ordinary Commission of Tax Affairs of the Legislative Assembly made four days ago to the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCJ) by 2021.

Even when they were dressed in black, complete with hats and dark glasses, the protesters knew how to add color to their protest, with dances, performances, and music. Trumpets and drums accompanied the tour, which started at 10:00 a.m. at the National Theater of Costa Rica (TNCR).

On their way to the Antigua Aduana Cultural Complex, the participants observed a minute of silence in front of whatever cinema, theater, or cultural center they crossed. They also placed black ties on the doors and gates of buildings such as the Variedades Cinema, the Cinema Center, among others.

“Where we have arrived, we have made the minute of silence and talked about the affectations. For example, in the Carmen Naranjo cultural center, which has disappeared six years ago and that is the fear of what we do not want to happen … more emblematic places disappear, representing lives and families in distress,” the spokeswoman for the Cultural Emergency Network, Evelyn Ugalde, declared. The protesters were led point by point by the actors Gustavo Rojas and Gladys Alzate.

The participants also showed banners that read messages such as “A people without culture aspires to cement”, “Culture saves lives”, “Culture bleeds to death”. They also made chants with phrases such as “Culture is not an expense, culture is an investment”, as it was transmitted in live social media broadcasts made by the organizers.

Strong budget reductions

The cut made to the Ministry of Culture was proposed by the legislator of the Christian Social Unity Party (PUSC), María Inés Solís and, according to the portfolio, this will affect the Melico Salazar National and Popular theaters, as well as the museums, the Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión (Sinart), the Colegio de Costa Rica, the Council of the Young Person, among others. This institution was the most hurt by the “pinch” of ¢ 7.108 million that the Government made to the proposed spending plan for next year.

The cuts – both to Culture and to other ministries and institutions – can still increase or decrease, as part of the analysis that the National Budget must go through in Congress for its final approval, which must be done on November 29th at the latest.

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