Bogotá, Colombia’s capital. Recently built shining mega-complexes are not far away from decayed neighborhoods. It is a city of differences, riches and poverty to been seen in the streets of the city 8 Million Colombian call home. One of the streets is outside of the Intercultural Colombo German Language Institute. For years passersby stared at the graffiti-stained wall in the heart of Bogotá, Colombia. It looked desolate, giving a gloomy aura to the neighborhood. But, those days belong to the past. The project BogotArt repainted the wall and turned it into a vivid piece of art, giving residents and visitors something beautiful to look at. Another step was made to bring new life, a new spirit, to the grey streets of the Colombian metropolis. The painting bears the name “sueño de un caballito de acero”, Spanish for “dream of an iron pony”. The name says it all: The project is a place to dream.
BogotArt: Repainting Bogotá
“The BogotArt foundation gives space to build a better future we want to see. We are dedicated to promote a more democratic world of art, which includes young people with a troubled background in cultural entrepreneurship through education”, explains Leonardo Párraga the project’s mission. He is the executive director and founder of BogotArt. Finding new and passionate allies to support youth, generating societal change and establishing guidelines for future projects and actions, stands written in capital letters in his job description. The project is still small in scale, but gets quickly off the starting blocks, expanding in size and reach. Four staff members work permanently for the foundation while volunteers, coming from very different backgrounds – from chemical engineers to economists – collaborate with the project. In total, the group involves 15 people, dedicating their time to an initiative which was initially seen more as a hobby than a full-time entrepreneurial venture. The idea sprung up observing the social problems of inequality Colombia’s working class is facing to this day.
“We noticed some years ago that art was limited to the privileged class. To those with sufficient means to access exhibitions, galleries and cultural events”, says Párraga. A large part of the population is deprived of this opportunity, which manifests itself in the unequal access to education and employment. “It has a certain tragic poesy that communities with less income do not have a true way to express themselves through art. Mass media limits their vision throughout their life. They would never know how much better the world could be for them”, continues the Colombian. Youth is the heart and mind of the project, offering them a world with plenty of opportunities to create a better future. Párraga sees the World Forum 2014 in Strasbourg as a chance to generate alternative approaches to form a more equal and inclusive society – from the upper to the working class, from the rich to the poor. Team Boomerang will cover his future journey during the Forum. Stay tuned for the follow-up report on BogotArt, focusing on the “artivistas” behind the project and get informed how a project idea turns into life. Follow Team Boomerang on Twitter and Facebook to receive news and updates on the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg.