She brought life back to Tijuana's cultural centers

Elsa Arnaiz talked about her work during these last three years when they spread art and culture to all corners of Tijuana

The Book Fiar moved to the CECUT and it looks like it was a successful change

It was a very positive change moving it to the CECUT. Pedro Ochoa was very helpful. I believe that it was the best Book Fair that Tijuana has ever had, with close to 150,000 attendees and, out of those, 25,000 were children that participated in our workshops, enjoyed some theater and, well, all of the IMAC staff and the collaboration with Pilar de Pina that worked on the fair and of course, we also had very good writers.

VIDEO: Remembering the Tijuana Book Fair

What is your most memorable moment of these last three years? Your most significant?

There were so many beautiful moments. From listening to the children orchestra from 'El Pípila' playing to seeing mothers approach you. One lady came and told me, 'look, my daughter just passed away and left me my three granddaughters and well, our only solace is seeing my eight year-old granddaughter playing the violin, and we do that every afternoon. We sit and listen to her and my other two small grandsons want to join the Youth Symphony, but we don't have money, I don't work" and so I tell them, well, we have scholarships and we would gladly give them the instrument. We charge them symbolically 150 pesos (12 USD) a month, but in many cases like that, we give them scholarships of course. And being able to see the joy in parents that tell you "I never thought that my son will be able to play Mozart and other great composers." We now have a youth symphony band in each of the culture centers, in Playas, in Altamira, but it is in the 'El Pípila' where it has most taken off.

Talk to us about the binational cultural activity, which was very intense.

There was practically no binational outreach, and well, during this administration we thought that it would be very important to foster this very important cultural relationship with San Diego, Los Angeles and even with New York. It is a new office and we ventured into taking our youth, our artist and even food to the Institute of the Americas in UCSD, the Los Angeles Cultural Center, to the Escondido Center for the Arts. Children from Tijuana get to and enjoy for free the San Diego Opera, galleries and museums at Balboa Park. They're programs that must continue. And well, the most important thing is that we leve behind some resources. Seven million pesos (533,800 USD) already marked in our IMAC accounts for cultural projects, for equipment, redevelopment. And there are two million pesos (152,500 USD) set aside for 2014 thanks to our negotiations in Congress. We acquired vehicles, a new bus that goes and brings back children from impoverished areas so that they may come to workshops. We leave the IMAC well equipped, with money.

We also see that culture manage to come to places where there traditionally was no access to it

We made MaquilArte for maquiladoras (manufacturing plants), with thousands and thousands of people that were there in productions lines and that most of the times have very little access to culture. We took peotry, music and art exhibits, panels about the history of Tijuana, revelers, violinist, and the program has been very successful. That way, while they are on their lunch brake, they can be listening to music.

Something else you wish to add?

The only thing I can say is thank the entire team at IMAC, this excellent group of partners that accompanied me and I want to thank the support of mayor Carlos Bustamante. I feel very grateful for having to be able to work on the culture of Tijuana.

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