The arts are not always in a prominent place on the political agenda in Africa, Latin-America and Asia. Nevertheless, an increasing number of governments recognise the importance of culture in itself and in connection to social and economic development.


August 2009 -

Nicaragua is the second poorest country of Latin America and the structures of cultural policy are still barely visible. It gives hope that the Nicaraguan government ratified the Unesco Convention on Cultural Diversity in March 2009. The country is divided into the more urbanized mestizo-Spanish west and the in materialistic terms largely undeveloped north-east, where also Garifuna and Indigenous people settled down. In the 1980s, the former Sandinista government could report a sharp decline in the illiteracy rate. During the period of neo-liberal government until 2006 this educational commitment largely broke away, and the rate increased tremendously again.

Official cultural policy takes place primarily within the context of the Instituto de Cultura Nicaragüense. There are affiliated cultural institutions such as the Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío, a high quality event building in the middle of the historic city centre of the capital Managua which has been a complete ruin since an earthquake in the 1970s.The school curriculum does not include artistic lessons. Libraries are rare and poorly equipped. Nicaraguan funding sources for culture arise only slowly since the last few years. There is also a great lack of professional training opportunities for artists and cultural workers.

The writers Sergio Ramirez, Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli are world-famous for their artistic creations. Besides they have always been culture politically committed in the past thirty years. An achievement is, for example, the Fundación Casa de los Tres Mundos, a cultural centre for children and adults, with courses in various artistic disciplines. Through the project Locreo the programs of cultural education could be taken to the poor neighbourhoods of Granada. Locreo had been part of a Finland-funded interregional project in several Central American countries from 2003 to 2008 and is now managed by private donations from Germany.

Also, the Swedish Sida launched two inter-regional programs for Central America. In addition to an expansion program for museums, the theatre capacity building program El Carromato has been started. The Nicaraguan counterpart is the Teatro Justo Rufino Garay, Nicaragua's only free theatre with its own stage and drama school. It was founded at the end of the 1970s during the beginning of the Sandinista revolution. Nowadays El Carromato is supported by Hivos.

The puppet theatre group Teatro de Titeres, Guachipilin in Managua is Nicaragua's contact for ASSITEJ, the international association of theatres for children and young people adopted by Unesco. The Nicaraguan Fundación Libros para Niños is dedicated to promoting reading. Not only the Nicaraguan infrastructure of libraries is thin on the ground. Also the teaching of joy to read and the access to literature requires an extensive promotion. In recent times Libros para Niños has found close collaborations with the Biblioteca Alemana-Nicaragüense in Managua and its Bibliobus Bertolt Brecht. The Fundacion Luciérnaga is a Nicaraguan culture initiative that, for example, travels with a mobile cinema through rural areas. It screens documentaries and films about life in other rural regions of Latin America with great success.