There’s a cultural arts center in David? Who knew?! David, the provincial capital of Chiriqui province in western Panama, is known as a commercial center. It is a bustling city where folks come to shop, take care of business, handle government requirements, or attend school. But it has not had a reputation as a locale that appreciates the arts and culture. That is changing thanks to the determined efforts of one man. Antonio Singh at the arts center.
Antonio Singh founded David’s center for the arts and culture, Casa Cultural La Guaricha, two years ago. Housed in a small residence on a side street in David, the center’s purpose is two-fold. One is to provide a place for artists of all genres to create and display their projects, with both working and exhibit space. The other is to promote these artists and their work, along with all aspects of the arts and culture, to the public to increase awareness and appreciation of the great talent in our midst.
With an extensive background in marketing, training, promotions and organization (he is the former director of the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival), Antonio has made great progress toward his and the center’s goals. La Guaricha presents musical and theater performances, film screenings, and literature readings, and hosts round-table discussions and exhibits of original art. Antonio has enlisted the support of two local restaurants, Cuatro and Most Bistro, for additional original art exhibits. The center also sponsors a music program in two of the community’s grade schools, with outside and local funding.
The biggest challenge facing the center is the establishment of regular financial recursos to meet expenses and continue to grow. There is now a Board of Directors and they are in the process of creating a foundation in order to formalize their funding. Antonio plans to create a Friends of La Guaricha program, which will encourage supporters by collecting a small annual membership fee in exchange for certain benefits. Until the foundation is established, resources are scarce and consist mainly of donations.
Sin embargo, Antonio has big plans for the future and is promoting upcoming events. On November 17 a fund-raiser will be held at Fiesta Casino in David to launch the Peligro Jazz Festival, which is scheduled for late March 2014. The music festival will feature mostly local musicians and will be held in the old town section of David. Antonio will be recruiting supporters and helpers for the event, and volunteers are welcome!
People in and around David are getting to know La Guaricha and what is has to offer. Especially among young people, it has become a cool place to go. It is so important to have a place dedicated to the arts, where artists and art lovers can gather and flourish, and where cultural activities can take place and thrive, and La Guaricha is meeting this need.
Y, what about the name? A “guaricha” is a small, tin oil lamp used in the countryside in the absence of electricity. Folks use them to light their homes or to light their path so they can find their way. It seems the perfect name for a center for the arts and culture, a place where we may all be enlightened!