In April 2022, Yareni Briceño was shopping at a supermarket in the canton of Cañas. Something routine. There she crossed paths with Sheyla Santana. They greeted each other and began talking without imagining what would come of that meeting.
“[That day], we talked about the situation in Cañas because I had just been told that the music school had closed and that news had a huge impact on me,” said Yareni.
Both are originally from Cañas and passionate about culture. Yareni is a musician by profession and Sheyla is a performing artist. The two grew up taking advantage of the canton’s Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) to develop their passions, practically the only center that the community had to promote the arts.
Imagining Cañas without this cultural program made Yareni very sad. For eight years, she was part of the music school, which was based in the Casa de la Cultura. “I’m not the only one. That program trained a lot of musicians who to this day are still professional musicians. They’ve created academies and are part of groups and symphonies,” she added.
After that meeting in the supermarket, Yareni and Sheyla kept in touch, because they thought they should do something. As the months passed, they formed Cañas ProCultural and came up with their first big activity: the Cañas Renace Festival, seeking to open forums for people of all ages to meet, share and practice art, culture and recreation.
The festival started this Friday, January 27, and will run until Sunday, January 29, with workshops, cultural presentations and recreational activities.
The Cultural Vacuum
Since she was 13 years old, Sheyla has been interested in the performing arts, but at that time, there weren’t programs to immerse yourself in it. So she formed a theater group with her friends.
“We wrote our letter, we sent it to the culture committee that existed at the time, and they lent us the Casa de la Cultura and we went there to practice,” she related. She took it so seriously that she ultimately decided to study performing arts.
According to her, that place where she went to practice with her friends has been inactive for years.
The Casa de la Cultura doesn’t belong to the municipality. So every time one tries to do something, they say that they’re fixing the place’s legal situation because it belongs to the Social Security Fund and not to the municipality,” she said.
The Voice team contacted the press manager to talk with an official on the subject. However, by the deadline for this article, they did not firm up a forum to talk.
Both women recognize that the festival won’t radically change the lack of cultural programs, but they feel that they can contribute in some way to reactivating interest in the canton in opening and promoting more programs.
The festival was developed with donations from local artists and support from institutions such as the National System of Conservation Areas (Spanish acronym: SINAC), Firefighters of Costa Rica, the Red Cross, the National Technical University (UTN) and businesses in the canton.
“The idea is to establish ourselves legally to be able to have more financing options to continue growing and turn this festival into a cultural center where all residents of the canton have access to art and culture,” explained Yareni.
The value of the appropriation of cultural programs
Having the community take the lead in proposing these initiatives is key to promoting culture, tourism and the economy, according to the cultural manager for Bagaces, Nicolás Guevara, one of only two municipal cultural managers in the province. The other local government that has one is La Cruz.
Many of these activities bring together a large number of people who go to convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants. Many people also travel from other cantons or other provinces to attend these community activities,” said the manager.
Guevara also believes that these programs also promote community harmony and physical and mental health, and that institutions should guarantee them.
“It’s not an obligation. It’s a cultural right that the community has and a duty of the local government to ensure an integral development of the canton,” he said in its defense.
A Festival for Everyone
The festival will last three days, from Friday, the 27th, to Sunday, the 29th. The activities will take place at the UTN campus in Cañas and in the canton’s central park.
Among the groups that will perform are UTN’s popular dance group, the Association of Folkloric Projection Caña de Azúcar and Niña Jaguar. Cimarrona bands and marimba ensembles will also liven up the atmosphere on the weekend.
The celebration’s lineup also includes theater, visual arts, popular dance and manga workshops, and even a discussion on the state of art and culture in the canton.