Here’s One Way to Support Puerto Rico’s Indie Arts and Culture Scene

Lead Photo: Photo by Natalia De La Rosa. Courtesy of the photographer
Photo by Natalia De La Rosa. Courtesy of the photographer
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San Juan’s beloved DIY arts and culture dive, El Local, is once again offering help in times of need. During the extended crisis post-Hurricane Maria in 2017, the venue, with help from its community of patrons, operated as a soup kitchen and refuge, welcoming everyone from artists to regulars to residents of Santurce neighborhood.

Mutual support amid the Covid-19 pandemic can’t be in person, unfortunately—so instead El Local is raising funds to alleviate the serious economic consequences the pandemic has wrought on Puerto Rico’s already cash-strapped independent arts and culture community.

Fondo La Quilla is inching its way toward its goal of $5,500, which—after covering fees from the fundraising platform—will be split into 50 micro grants of $100 and delivered to Puerto Rico’s artists, creatives, cultural workers and members of the service industry. This first phase of fundraising closes Wednesday, June 3.

“Facing all this uncertainty, more than ever, we have to breathe deeply and remember that we’ve got each other,” the organizers emphasize in the fundraising statement.

El Local adds to that statement that everyone’s been affected differently by the pandemic: Some people have savings, some can keep working, and some haven’t been able to earn a single dollar.

Not everyone in Puerto Rico has received (or will receive) the $1200 federal aid money. Unemployment claims to local government have been slow to process, and of course, not everyone qualifies for that assistance, particularly if they weren’t traditionally employed in the first place.

Photo by Ana Paula Teixeira. Courtesy of the photographer
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Puerto Rican Governor Wanda Vázquez is reopening the economy in stages. Whether that’s a good or bad thing (many are calling for more widespread testing, and most businesses won’t be allowed to operate at full capacity), it doesn’t much help folks who rely on nightlife, festivals and the like to generate income. Mass gatherings are still too much a risk; more likely than not, it’ll be awhile before bars, clubs, and venues can reopen for concerts, art expos, and other events.

Additionally, like most areas affected, everyone’s seen their mental and emotional well-being affected. Working through the lows, even if given the opportunity, is difficult.

Like with any fundraiser, every donation, however small, is a welcome addition to the pot. If you’re currently deep en las malas and cannot give, spreading the word is another way to help.

Photo by Natalia de la Rosa. Courtesy of the photographer
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You can donate through the fundraising platform here. There’s also the option to use Venmo (see info on fundraising page). More information about the fundraiser is also available here.

Applications to receive funding are available here. You can apply for yourself, or nominate someone else.