Bread and art for Nicaragua

Daniel Gad
The Power of Culture

“Art and culture are just as important as eating and drinking. Culture forms identity, it gives us roots – Art gives us wings.”

Casa de los Tres Mundos

According to this conviction the European umbrella NGO Pan y Arte (Bread and Art) promotes various independently organized cultural projects in Nicaragua since over fifteen years. Especially children need more than the satisfaction of material needs, so that they grow up to independent personalities. Creativity awakens joy and self-confidence – they learn responsibility and mutual respect.

However, an artistic and creative education remains a unusual topic in the Nicaraguan education policy. Today, Pan y Arte-Germany is led by the retired German top politician Henning Scherf. In Austria and Switzerland there are also Pan y Arte offices. The projects are financed by private donations, because especially in Germany state funds to support arts and culture in development cooperation are missing.

Since 1992 children can play music, paint and make theatre in the cultural centre Casa de los Tres Mundos (House of the Three Worlds) in Granada. Additional courses are offered directly in the poor neighbourhoods. Founded by Austrian actor Dietmar Schönherr and Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal, the centre receives international recognition. It offers space to professional artists, in order to produce art, to organize performances, exhibitions and concerts and to promote the exchange – such places are rare in Central America. Attached to Casa is a village-development-project in Los Angeles (Malacatoya), which was started in 1998 following the devastating impact of Hurricane Mitch. As part of an income-generating-activity an art-paper factory had been built up. Recently a municipal organized cinema had been opened.

Música en los Barrios (Music in the poor Districts) is a project for children of the capital Managua. It was founded by the German music educator Luise Scherf in 1993. Now it is headed by Nicas and has already expanded to other cities. Once a year German music educators accompany the musical training of Nicaraguan pre – and primary teachers.

The German-Nicaraguan Library in Managua and the Bibliobus Bertolt Brecht are based on an initiative of the German librarian Elisabeth Zilz in 1992. It gives access to literature and promotes reading skills of children, adolescents and adults because books are, if available at all, unaffordable and good libraries rare.

The Initiative Kultur Bewegt (Initiative Culture Moves) emerged out of Pan y Arte-Germany in 2006 being devoted to networking and lobbying work for the field of arts and culture in development cooperation.

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