30 years remaining young and constantly renewing
Three decades after its foundation, the Hermanos Saíz Association seeks to remain young. It also seeks not to die. "The AHS is a living organization," warns Rafael González Muñoz, vice president of the Association. "It continues to be an organization that represents young artists under 35 years of age, on a voluntary and selective basis, because twice a year we have had hundreds of artists joining us; so it is constantly renewed ".
Defending emerging art
Since its foundation in 1986, the AHS promotes young creation from all corners of the Island, and its principle is to defend emerging art. Thus, with more than 3,000 associates, says Rafael, "the tendency of membership has not been to decrease, but to maintain itself. We have organized the process of growth better, with a system for those young people in each province aspiring to join, to be evaluated by a jury, made up of prestigious artists, young people with an outstanding track record within the Association.
"For this process applicants must submit a resume, photos, a dossier – in the case of plastic artists – videos (performing arts), manuscripts (literature) or a demo recording (musicians).
"The sad thing is that many young artists join the AHS not only thinking about the collective spirit of the organization, to link with young people of other specialisms, but as a quick way to become professionalized, in the case of musicians; Or a way to gain the status of artist. But the idea is that in the organization they find that directly.
Opportunities for creative grants and scholarships
"Most of the young musicians who have albums with Egrem or other record companies today have benefited from our scholarships. The writers, for their part, have the possibility of publishing their work with our five publishers. "
The publishing houses of the AHS contribute to the panorama of national culture. Territorial Editions (SET) include the publishers Sed de Belleza, Villa Clara; Ediciones La Luz, of Holguín; Aldabón, from Matanzas; Áncora, from Isla de la Juventud and Queen of the Sea, from Cienfuegos.
"These five publishers already have put their annual publications together, and present books to the Cuban Book Institute (ICL).
"Today, Ediciones La Luz is among the most important publishers in the country, at the height of any national editorial. It has received the La Puerta de Papel award, which ICL awards to publishers, editors, designers and writers from all provinces that publish via SET. This publishing house, in addition, is now presenting the production plan for 2017, about 29 titles. It is also publishing essays, poetic anthologies, volumes that exceed 200 pages.
"But the Association has not only dedicated itself to promoting young creators. We have gone a little further, since some titles have been published that constitute a mandatory reference for young Cuban writing. Even Latin American writers have been published and, due to the prestige achieved, the ICL itself has commissioned our publishers certain productions, such as books related to the countries guests of honour at our annual International Book Fair.
A bridge between production and institutions
"During these three decades the organization has functioned as a bridge between artistic and literary production and the rest of our cultural institutions. The dialogue, two way if possible, has concentrated on promoting alternatives and the creation of spaces for theoretical discussion.
"In Cuba there is a cultural policy that both the Ministry of Culture, as the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, the AHS and the rest of the institutions of culture, defend. Each one from its position, with its concrete objectives. A few years ago, the link between the AHS and these institutions was set. In 2013 at the AHS's 2nd congress, it was recognised that it had a role as a catalyst or dynamite element. It was necessary for young people to have this role or they were seen only as irreverent children, occupied with their things and nothing more.
A platform for young artists
"That second congress left a platform for young artists to be respected and consulted for other inter-institutional projects. The dialogue between the Ministry of Culture and the Association is solid and almost essential.
"The creative scholarships, now running for 21 years – carry great prestige, such as the Conmutaciones and Ignacio Villa, both aimed at musicmaking; the Chicuelo grant, for scriptwriting for film; the Che Guevara Thinking Scholarship for essayists and critics; as well as the Calendar Awards – a literary prize that every young writer wants to win, among others, are also the result of management and dialogue between the Ministry of Culture, its institutions and the AHS, an organization that, with 30 years' experience seeks to be consistent with the name it bears, above all because of the symbolic burden it entails; and to continue to give younger artists, not only a voice, but also to help them realise their creative projects."