Flamboyan is working closely with twelve arts organizations on the island to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico with an additional round of grantees to be announced this summer. This series will spotlight all twelve Arts Fund grantee organizations.
Decimanía’s mission is to keep one of Puerto Rico’s most important poetic traditions, the décima, alive. The sound of the cuatro transports every Puerto Rican to the mountains of their island. This music is the indisputable companion to the décima, a poetic composition of 10 verses that our trovadores (a singer that improvises in décima) use when improvising their songs.
Decimanía, founded by Omar Santiago and Roberto Silva, is one of the Flamboyan Arts Fund’s inaugural grantees. The organization promotes international exchange among trovadores; incentivizes children to learn how to write décimas and improvise; and educates audiences about the art of the décima.
We have asked the team at Decimanía to answer five questions about their work and the future of their organization. Read on to learn more about them.
What’s the story behind the creation of Decimanía? What motivated you to found it?
We created Decimanía de Puerto Rico in 2007, to work as a cultural entity committed to the preservation and amplification of the traditions of décima, trova and typical Puerto Rican music.
We organize events where the public can enjoy our artistic expression. We have recorded albums and published books and we support research projects and give educational workshops to children and young people. In addition, we provide financial support to trovadores and musicians so they can travel to perform at international events. We also develop and design radio and television programs. In the past 12 years we have reached tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who now value and better understand the art of décima and our typical music.
What are your main achievements?
As an organization, our work is focused on several areas aimed at strengthening the tradition of décima in Puerto Rico.
In the area of education, Decimanía has given more than 50 workshops for students and aspiring trovadores of all ages who show promise of becoming part of the new generation of trova in Puerto Rico. We have also published six books of décimas, which we have given to young trovadores across the island and have supported research projects about this tradition.
In terms of the amplification of our work, Decimanía has produced more than 500 radio programs dedicated to airing the music of Puerto Rican trovadores. We also announce trova concerts and have produced close to 50 television programs in collaboration with WIPR TV. In these programs, we include the participation of children, young trovadores and musicians. We have also organized more than a hundred concerts in Puerto Rico and other parts of the world and produced 15 albums featuring close to 150 trova musicians and singers total. Decimanía hosts the most important décima event in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican Trovador Week where trovadores from 10 countries meet to support our cultural work.
What was the reality of your organization before receiving the Flamboyan Arts Fund grant?
Decimanía has been able to carry out its projects thanks to a collective effort and self-sustainability with activities that have helped us keep a platform of bi-annual projects. In the year 2017, we were not able to complete our most important projects due to the loss of our programmatic funding and Hurricane María devastating the island.
When we received the Flamboyan Arts Fund grant in October 2018 our organization was able to revive our programmatic initiatives, such as the Christmas Concert at Bellas Artes and other projects currently underway in 2019. These projects are aimed at reviving the educational and musical agenda of Decimanía. This grant has allowed us to structure a series of new projects and consolidate the ones that already existed.
How are you using the funds you received?
We have designed a series of projects, that allow us to create new educational spaces, music concerts, new albums and other subgrants so that our young trovadores can travel to perform at national and international events. By doing this, we can fuel initiatives that support the amplification, presence and preservation of the tradition of trova and typical Puerto Rican music.
What do you think about this collaboration between Flamboyan Foundation, Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family and the producers of Hamilton to create this Fund to support arts and culture in Puerto Rico?
The creation of a special fund that supports the preservation of Puerto Rico’s arts and culture is a sincere act of solidarity and generosity that should serve as a model to make possible the Puerto Rico we dream about.
In moments when the economic crisis of the island is discussed in the media, cultural spaces suffer, from the immediate cuts to the government’s budget to the lack of institutional support.
The establishment of the Flamboyan Arts Fund is the best news that the arts community could have received after Hurricane Maria.
Look out next week for another opportunity to meet a Flamboyan Arts Fund inaugural grantee! Learn more about the Arts Fund @ http://www.flamboyanartsfund.org.
Neeltje van Marrissing Méndez is the Senior Director of Communications in our Puerto Rico office. Learn more about her at http://flamboyanfoundation.org/team_members/neeltje-l-van-marrissing-mendez/.