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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Cultural program for San Juan youth to culminate with stage performance

San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo, left, and Alejandro Salgado Colón, head of Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Administration

By John McPhaul

The Municipality of San Juan will start a free cultural enrichment program for children and young people in public housing in the Capital City, Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo and Alejandro Salgado Colón, head of the island Public Housing Administration, announced Sunday.

The initiative arose through an alliance between the Municipality of San Juan and the Public Housing Administration (PRPHA) for the implementation of a pilot program whose objective is to ensure that children over 12 years of age and young adults who reside in public housing experience the artistic environment and engage in work that includes the presentation of a play.

“One of the priorities of my administration is to get closer to the communities, learn first-hand about their needs and work together to improve the quality of life of all Sanjuaneros,” the mayor said. “This great initiative, which combines the resources of the central government with those of the municipality, responds specifically to this commitment, so we are very confident that this alliance will be of great benefit to all.”

The project will begin on Monday, March 21, and will impact a total of 60 participants (15 per community) from the four public housing projects where the effort will be launched: Las Casas, Villa España, San Martín and Alejandrino. Participants will learn and practice the artistic disciplines of theater, music, singing and Puerto Rican bomba.

“For us at the PRPHA, our children and young adults are a priority. Continuing to offer tools that not only improve their quality of life, but also promote healthy coexistence and expand culture while having fun, is certainly something that fills us with great joy,” Salgado Colón said. “We thank the mayor for his willingness to join forces and continue working for the well being of our public housing residents. We hope that this will be one of many collaborations between the PRPHA and the Municipality of San Juan.”

The workshops will be held two days a week in each residence for a period of three months. Theater and music classes will be taught Monday and Wednesday at the Las Casas residential complex, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Saint Martin. Meanwhile, the disciplines of Puerto Rican singing and bomba will be offered Monday and Wednesday at Villa España, and Tuesday and Thursday at Alejandrino.

Antonio Morales, the director of the municipality’s Department of Art and Culture, expressed enthusiasm over the beginning of the program, which is expected to expand to other residential areas of San Juan.

“Being able to go into these communities to expose our children and youth to art is a dream come true,” he said. “As a product of a public housing project, I know how important it is to bring these opportunities closer to communities, since art not only raises awareness, but also opens up a whole world of opportunities for progress and well being. We want the success stories in our developments to be the good news that inspires us in all areas.”

At the end of the workshop, the children and young adults will present to an audience the play “El Tambor de Salomé,” which will be staged in the community center of one of the participating residential complexes. The workshops will be held free of charge Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Every second Friday of the month, participants from the four communities will make an excursion to a place determined by the San Juan Office of Art and Culture to participate in a joint workshop. “El Tambor de Salomé” focuses on self-knowledge and the defining of a person’s identity through the cultural and artistic influence of their society.

The Municipality of San Juan will provide the workshops and accompanying materials for the participants. For its part, the PRPHA will be in charge of identifying the residents and providing the community centers at the residences for the workshops and rehearsals, offering refreshments, and providing transportation for the practices and the final event.

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