Culture of Camaguey, Cuba

Culture is an emblematic feature of Camaguey, not only because of the fact that Silvestre de Balboa wrote here, in 1608, "Espejo de Paciencia", the first epic poem of the Cuban literature, or because this is the cradle of renowned artists like the writers Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Nicolás Gillén (Cuba’s National Poet), the painter Fidelio Ponce de Leon, transcendental example of Cuban fine arts or the composer Jorge González Allué, author of the universally known "Amorosa Guajira", but because beyond its old and illustrious traditions, the people of Camaguey has a special vocation to everything that may enrich spirit and intellect.

Camaguey might show off from an architectural patrimony built throughout centuries. The high conservation degree of the historical old city with its squares, alleys, churches and colonial houses still echoes the sound of past epochs. Indeed, the harmony of such urban scenery seems to let time still.

This secular taste for culture encouraged the settlers of these regions, devoted to cattle-raising and agriculture, to began building the Theater Principal in 1847, a coliseum that has hosted the most varied cultural expressions that consolidated the Cuban identity for more than 150 years.
This marvelous construction, which has silently witnessed a wide spectrum of artistic trends, hosts the National Theater Festival that gathers the very best companies of Cuba every two years; international festivals of contemporary music such as the famous Boleros de Oro Festival. Moreover, this is the permanent headquarters of the laureate Camaguey Ballet, who was founded and run by Master Fernando Alonso, also founder of the Cuban National Ballet together with his ex-wife Alicia Alonso.

Camaguey is also provided with dozens of places where different dances and plays are staged by prestigious and talented dance and drama companies, for instance, Conjunto Artístico Maraguán, the Folk Ballet of Camaguey; Caidije, La Edad de Oro, The Guiñol, The Dramatist and Theater of the Wind, just to quote a few of these avant-garde companies.

There are relevant musical groups such as Dessandan, which has received outstanding acknowledgements worldwide, e.g., a nomination to the Grammy; the Symphony Orchestra; the municipal bands of concerts; the Chamber Orchestra; the Maravillas de Florida Band, representative of the most genuine dance music; the star Candita Batista and dozens of solo singers.

Many plastic artists such as Orestes Larios, Joel Jover, Ileana Sánchez and Gabriel Gutiérrez are widely recognized both in Cuba and abroad due to their highly valuable aesthetic works. Many of their masterpieces are exhibited annually in the Provincial Exhibition Hall Fidelio Ponce of León.

When talking about Cuban ceramics it is really impossible to ignore Camaguey's motto: "the land of tinajones". These big vessels made out of clay that at present are ornaments in patios, parks and public buildings. Famous Camaguey potters like Nazario Salazar, Oscar Rodríguez Lasserie, and Martha Jiménez have been awarded several times for their works. The secret to achieve this goal...? Simply to be nourished by the tinajon tradition.

A select group of Camaguey writers like Roberto Méndez, Luis Alvarez and Luis Suardíaz belong to the very best of the Cuban literature.
The Camaguey people is fan and expert on the so-called Seventh Art, that is why every year it holds the Warehouse of the Image Festival, which hosts film directors, actors, producers, critics and investigators who take part in the Meeting of the Cinematographic Critique.

Camaguey has several libraries, museums, bookstores, houses of culture and other institutions that promote activities in neighborhoods and communities. Such activities organized and advised by instructors and promoters of art, bring about the development of the artistic aptitudes of a massive movement of fans that is dignified and improved by these programs.