The visit by U.S. president Barack Obama has led to closer ties between North American authorities and their Caribbean neighbor. It is this new context that brought members of the Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities, a White House advisory body, to Havana.

The visit by U.S. president Barack Obama has led to closer ties between North American authorities and their Caribbean neighbor. It is this new context that brought members of the Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities, a White House advisory body, to Havana.From April 18 to 21, more than 70 of the commission‘s members visited the University of the Arts, the headquarters of the Lizt Alonso dance company and the children´s theater group La Colmenita in the Cuban capital, among other institutions.

New intercultural exchange projects emerged as a result of the visit. The Smithsonian Institution and the National Heritage Council of Cuba signed a joint declaration expressing their commitment to further collaboration.

Margo Lion, co-president of the committee, said that a strong bond was established in just a few days which will permit ongoing work in the future.

Williams Adams, manager of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said that this institution would finance a trip to Cuba for U.S. students and professionals in the field of heritage conservation.

Following the warm welcome given by the Cuban people, the president of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, talked about new exchange programs sponsored by her organization.

She explained that they mean that for the very first time, a U.S. government will provide financial support for an initiative of this type, which will allow North American artists to come and act in Cuba and that in turn, Cuban delegations could visit their northern neighbor.

She said that they were intent on creating new roads to understanding, appreciation and
exchange.

The visit by U.S. president Barack Obama has led to closer ties between North American authorities and their Caribbean neighbor. It is this new context that brought members of the Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities, a White House advisory body, to Havana.Chu also praised the fact that the arts are available to everybody and not just one particular group in Cuba. She said that she wished this were so in the U.S.

George Stevens, co-president of the committee, announced details of the international Sundance Film Forward tour that would visit Havana in July for the screening of two movies.

On the other hand, six Cuban feature length films are to be shown over the coming months in cinemas in 10 U.S. cities.

Smithsonian Institution secretary, David J. Skorton sees a great future ahead if both the Cuban and U.S sides can work together as both friends and colleagues.

Skorton added that there is an annual event in Washington called the Folklife Festival, that brings diverse cultures together to break down geographical barriers and that it would be very good to have Cuba as an invited guest in 2017.

Explaining that Cuba possessed tremendous cultural wealth which has made his organization very interested in working with the island, he continued to say, “there are many young people involved with broad interests and skills, which inspires us to want to forge stronger links”.

The visit by U.S. president Barack Obama has led to closer ties between North American authorities and their Caribbean neighbor. It is this new context that brought members of the Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities, a White House advisory body, to Havana.For Miguel Barnet, president of the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers, it is only the lifting of the Washington imposed economic, commercial and financial Blockade that will normalize relations, because it is an obstacle to all development.

The Cuban Deputy-Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, also referred to the impossibility for Cuban agencies to receive rewards for their activities in the U.S which is another Blockade provoked limitation.

Amongst the most recognized of the delegation was North American rap star, Usher, who made some unscheduled impromptu trips, such as a visit to a hiphop venue in the city neighborhood of Regla.

Smokey Robinson and Davis Mathews also heated things up a bit when they took to the stage at the Cuban Arts Factory in the central city district of Vedado.

Those present at the cultural center enjoyed an unexpected performance by Mathews, also a music producer, who was accompanied by local singer, Carlos Varela.

As people climbed up trees, onto roofs and filled the streets, the singer of ‘Yeah’ proclaimed “Cuba is showing the love and I love Cuba, what tremendous energy, the arts and culture here are both so refreshing and real”.

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