By Ananay Aguilar
On 31 Oct.-2 Nov. 2017, FIM organised its first event in Cuba since its 17th Congress, held in Havana in 2001. This training workshop was hosted by UNEAC (Union de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), in the framework of a regional project funded by Swedish organisation Union To Union, with support from SMF.
The FIM team consisted of Déborah Cheyne (FIM Vice President), John Acosta (President of AFM Local 47 – Los Angeles), Benoît Machuel (FIM General Secretary) and Ananay Aguilar (FIM Regional Coordinator for Latin America). They were given the opportunity to meet with UNEAC President Miguel Barnet, Guido López Gavilán (President of UNEAC Musicians’ section) as well as other executive members based in Havana and in the provinces of Villa Clara and Matanzas.
The event was attended by representatives from the most important musical institutions, including the Instituto Cubano de la Musica (ICM) and the collective management organisation for authors and composers (Agencia Cubana de Derecho de Autor Musical – ACDAM). ICM, which is governed by Cuba’s Ministry of Culture, oversees the development, protection and promotion of music in the country, including that of songwriters through ACDAM. Also present was Nereyda López of the cultural workers trade union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Cultura), as well as representatives from the national centre for arts schools (Centro Nacional de Escuelas de Arte – CNEART) and other various educational establishments from primary to higher music education.
The FIM delegates were introduced to the particular characteristics of Cuban cultural institutions and their combined efforts to support local musical traditions. They also learned about the unions’ comprehensive membership and employment sources for musicians. Copyright, collective management, union governance and international cultural policy were addressed, as well as gender, diversity and social mobility within the local music industry.
A visit of the superb UNEAC headquarters was organised, as well as of the stunning campus of the University of the Arts hosting the Escuela Nacional de Arte and the Instituto Superior de Arte, where a meeting took place with the Principal Alexis Seijo García and the Dean of Music María del Rosario Hernández, amongst other members of the University’s executives.
The entire event was surrounded by live music, with the Dúo Darias (Guajira music), the Trio Los Embajadores and a percussion group composed of students and teachers from the ISA. The highlight was on the second evening, when several UNEAC members — including one of the former members of Los Van Van, Angel Bonne, and guitarist Rey Montesinos — surprised us with a rich variety of Cuban songs.
From left to right starting at the top: Benoît Machuel (FIM General Secretary), Rey Montesinos (Guitarist), Alejandro Sánchez Camps (President of UNEAC Musicians’ section at Villa Clara), Luis A. Llagano Pérez (President of UNEAC Musicians’ section at Matanzas), John Acosta (President of AFM Local 47 – Los Angeles), René Hernández Quintero (Director of ACDAM), José Alberto García Alfonso (President of UNEAC at Matanzas),
Nereyda López (General Secretary, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajdores de la Cultura), Juan Piñera (Vice President of UNEAC Musicians’ section), Guido López Gavilán (President of UNEAC Musicians’ section), Marta Campos (Vice President of UNEAC Musicians’ section), Dolores Márquez de la Torre (Vocalist), Ananay Aguilar (FIM Regional Coordinator for Latin America), Ailer Pérez Gómez (Musicologist, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Música Cubana, CIDMUC),
Cary Diez (Producer, Bis Music), Deborah Cheyne (FIM Vice President and SINDIMUSI VP), Roberto Valera (Composer)