When Christopher López arrives at the violin class, he picks up his instrument and music stand and heads into the improvised classroom, at the end of the hallway in the Guanacaste Museum. The old building has served for 10 years as the headquarters of the National Music Education System (Sinem) in Liberia.
There are days when Sinem has 50 students, but only one classroom for lessons that also serves as an office for professors. That’s why, like Christopher, many kids need to get accommodated in the corridors.
Not having classrooms puts lessons at risk. If it rains, the hallways flood and classes are canceled.
Due to the lack of space and poor conditions at the museum, Sinem director for Liberia Roxana Borges decided to halt new applications indefinitely. “People don’t like to be in a classroom under these conditions. We used to have more than 200 students and this year we started with 180,” she said.
Now, Sinem Liberia faces two challenges: they lack a space and also money for building the new space.
Access Paths Halt New Lot
In class, Christopher concentrates so the sounds of other students don’t distract him from his violin. When he practices outside the building, the wind blows the score sheets off his stand.
His professor, Pablo Brenes, says moving Sinem to a bigger space is urgent because many parents and students are losing motivation.
All the classes are mixed together and there is a lot of noise pollution. Even the youngest ones ask me why we don’t use another room,” Brenes said.
Sinem Liberia was founded in 2010 without a designated space. City authorities made the museum available so it could start operating. Almost 10 years later, red tape has prevented the institution from moving to a better place.
At the start of 2016, then representatives approved donating a lot to Sinem at the northeast end of the bullring Camilo Reyes. More than three years later, the lot still isn’t in the institution’s name because the state’s attorney demanded blueprints include access and exit paths to the property. The city cannot turn over the property until the design is ready.
Sinem needs to conclude the transfer of the property urgently because, according to Borges, they can’t request funds from the Ministry of Culture or any other institution without having a lot assigned to them.
“Everything (the demo) has been approved. The mayor has delayed transferring the lot” the director said.
Liberia Mayor Julio Viales says that the delay is due to the street design requested by the state’s attorney, and he says he will not be responsible for building that road.
According to the mayor, the only requirement left is sending the new plans to the state’s attorney so they can get the green light and finish the transfer.
Museum Wants Sinem Out
Generally, a museum requires silence. At a music school, instruments make noise. For the head of the Guanacaste Museum board of directors Ligia Zúñiga, that means Sinem must leave.
The presence of Sinem, she says, puts the pieces on exhibit at risk. “Do you think we want to have expositions and then worry about the security of the pieces? With them here, the museum loses.
Sometimes there are more than 100 people and we have no control over them,” Zúñiga said.
As a temporary solution, the representatives proposed letting Sinem use the second floor of the city archive, but the area needs repairs before it can be used.
Sinem director is willing to accept the solution despite the fact that the marimba and other instruments won’t fit in the building’s elevator. “If they tell me to move tomorrow, I’d move tomorrow,” Borges said.
While the red tape affects Sinem’s operations, Christopher hopes his classes aren’t canceled again.