Invest Puerto Rico (IPR), with Universidad Sagrado Corazon and other partners, commits to supporting a robust pipeline of local creative talent by providing growth opportunities for creative entrepreneurs and elevating Puerto Rico to the world stage of arts and culture. This two-year initiative begins with creating an asset map to better understand Puerto Rico’s creative industry. Then, the partners will establish an accelerator program for artists and arts-related entrepreneurs. Finally, the commitment will culminate in a global arts and music festival showcasing emerging talent in Puerto Rico.
In the first phase, IPR, with the support of Sound Diplomacy and Inversion Cultural, will map the creative industry’s assets in Puerto Rico. This asset report will identify strengths and gaps in the current industry, clarify relevant policy, and inform partners’ decisions to establish the accelerator program.
In the next phase, Sagrado Corazon and Gener8tor, will create a music and visual arts acceleration program to strengthen Puerto Rico’s art ecosystem by providing financial support and business capacity building to 240 entrepreneurs. This financial support includes access to approximately $500,000 in grants, loans, and other funding sources, and capacity building support includes education, business training, research, affordable access to studios and other arts spaces, as well as management services for participants. The accelerator will also create 10 new jobs to operate the building and program.
Lastly, IPR, with Parallel18 and other partners, will develop a Latin Arts/Culture festival, showcasing music and visual artists from Puerto Rico. The goal of the festival will be to generate global attention, elevate local emerging artists, and establish Puerto Rico as a destination for worldwide talent. Overall this commitment will help arts become a more robust driver of Puerto Rican economic activity, making the island a more attractive location for investment and development.
Sound Diplomacy, in conjunction with Inversión Cultural, will begin to conduct site visits in Puerto Rico to establish the scope and relevant contacts for the asset mapping project.
InvestPR, in conjunction with Sound Diplomacy, Parallel 18, and other partners, will launch the initiative with marketing at international arts festival (such as SXSW), announcing projects that boost Puerto Rico’s creative industries.
Completion of extensive asset and policy mapping to improve the creative industry business climate in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean; Include specific skill identification for pre-production, production, and post-production technical skills.
Gener8tor, working with Sagrado Corazon, will launch the accelerator at Sagrado Corazon’s new EDA-funded renovated arts space, complete with creative industry business support services. Hiring for 10 operational positions within the accelerator will take place. Access to financing through Inversión Cultural and Fundación Flamboyan.
Puerto Rico is rich in culture and expression, with music and visual and dramatic arts ingrained in daily life. Puerto Ricans gave the world salsa and reggaeton and are featured in 27 out of the 100 most viewed music videos of 2019 (Kworb.net). According to The Guardian, “Over on Spotify, four of the six most popular Latin artists are also Puerto Rican.”
Despite having such a fertile cultural environment, Puerto Rico lacks the technical and entrepreneurial support to service emerging talent, meaning many local artists seek opportunities in Miami or Los Angeles. Although music and the arts thrive creatively, the industry’s successes are not reflected in the economy. According to the Puerto Rico Planning Board, arts and entertainment made up less than 1% of the Island’s GDP in 2018 and have stagnated or decreased since.
The arts can be transformative in creating economic opportunities for vulnerable populations that don’t have immediate access to educational and entrepreneurial resources and arts-specific accelerators are a powerful tool to bridge the gap in access to economic opportunities. Cultural accelerators tap into a diverse participant pool nearly entirely separate from formal education and other economic opportunities. Engaging with participants from poorer neighborhoods in Puerto Rico, as Gener8tor has done in Milwaukee, is one goal of this project. In addition to boosting local economies, thriving local culture increases Puerto Rico’s global visibility, and improves quality of life rankings, a factor that attracts businesses and investors.
With a stronger growth support network in the creative industries, Puerto Rico can retain great local talent. This network entails mapping existing assets, identifying gaps, and nurturing arts facilities and talent. It also means creating a coherent strategy to guide the development of the arts as a dynamic component of the Island’s economic development.
To complete this commitment, IPR seeks financial resources from federal grants and philanthropic donations, and media support. To scale this project, IPR would seek financial resources, implementing partners in the creative industries in other Puerto Rican cities, and media support. Santurce has an arts accelerator and a great university; in order to be successful in other sites, IPR would seek similar institutional partners that can highlight the distinctive nature of those locations.
Invest Puerto Rico can support other organizations in the Action Network by providing economic development expertise, as well as the ability to bring together diverse partners focused on a common goal, to increase economic development in Puerto Rico.