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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

$34 million in ARPA funds allotted for cultural programs, historical heritage

Some $6 million will be used to make improvements in historic government properties such as Los Dominicos Convent (also known as the National Gallery), Casilla del Caminero in Bayamón and Fortín San Jerónimo (pictured).

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Monday the distribution of $33.7 million in funds from the federal law of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to promote various programs in cultural institutions and restore historic buildings.

The money will also be used for programmatic activities and competitive grants, digitizing documents, preserving historical artifacts and promoting the orange economy.

“As I have said on countless occasions, our history and heritage are an integral part of our tourism offer. Likewise, all the components of the cultural sector have great potential to impact our economic development, for which it is essential to preserve, protect and promote them,” the governor said at a press conference. “The support for the cultural sector and the orange economy, which has been so affected during the pandemic, is solid in my administration. I am convinced that these investments will result in great benefits for our economy, tourism and the quality of life of our people.”

Funds are being allocated for government service activities and for digitization of work and documents. They are also being spent on property maintenance and restoration, programmatic activities, and competitive grants, as well as support for key entities in the cultural sector. The monies will be supplemented with other funds allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The announcement of the second phase includes $3.5 million for 39 properties of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture for maintenance, improvement, resilience and restoration projects. About $1.1 million was set aside for improvements in the Francisco Arriví and Victoria Espinosa theaters, which include works to provide high-speed internet, purchase new equipment with energy efficiency, lighting, infrastructure modernization and purchase of generators.

The governor noted that some $6 million will be used to make improvements in historic government properties, such as Los Dominicos Convent (also known as the National Gallery), the Opis House, the Old Chamber of Commerce Building in the Cultural District of Bayamón, Casilla del Caminero, also in Bayamón, and Fortín San Jerónimo.

“At the Fine Arts Center we will invest $1 million for improvements in the parking lot and the start of seating replacement,” he said. “Meanwhile, we will give $2 million to the Old San Juan School of Studio Arts and Design for maintenance, painting and improvement projects in that historic building.”

Another $2 million will be spent on the restoration, improvement and maintenance of the Music Conservatory, as well as for the repair of instruments, purchase of new equipment and security systems.

Other appropriations will go to the State Historic Preservation Office, for which $2.3 million is being allocated for the renovation and construction of its facilities, as well as for a three-dimensional projection show and for the digitization of archeological archives. Likewise, $2 million has been allocated for restoration and digitization of over 100,000 historical documents, archeological effects, building heritage, museums, parks, publications, among other purposes.

Also, $1.2 million is being allocated over three years for the creation of the Digital Library of Puerto Rico, which will include a selection of public domain publications. The intention is to work on 700 books a year for a total of 2,100 books in the three years of the project.

An additional $500,000 will be used to digitize documents from the United States National Archives related to Puerto Rican affairs.

In addition, $2 million will be provided for the restoration of other museums, parks, gardens and monuments of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

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