Letter from the director of Centro León to the national and international community

Dear friends:

The Covid-19 pandemic has jolted our customs and traditions. The world has isolated itself to prevent massive contagion of this virus. It has been overwhelmed by loss, and by the social and economic consequences that come as a result of this isolation. We have seen desolation, mourning, suffering and anguish. Humanity has been shaken to its core as a community of living beings.

From the moment we’re born, our daily existence is a personal and joint effort to live and live with others. Nourishing our bodies, taking shelter under a safe roof, living in a healthy environment, receiving the necessary medical attentions, these are the material conditions that give dignity to our lives. To exist, we also need one another. Affection fuels our feelings and keeps us going despite the difficulties we may find along the way. Culture, for its part, is all those means of emotion, thought and action, shared by the members of a society that makes it possible for us to have a common language to communicate with.

One of the most important elements of culture is how it provides us with a reservoir, that we use whenever we suffer trauma or loss. Culture helps us to get back on our feet. It helps us to keep walking on the path of life. Our capacity to react in a psycho-affective, social, or civic manner, even our productivity, usually owes a lot to that cultural reservoir we accumulate throughout our life. This comes from the context in which we grow up, the context with which we interact, the experiences we live and what we learn.

Centro León was created, precisely, as an institution offering a cultural service. Through the arts, critical thinking and socio-cultural activities, it aims to contribute and promote to a wide national and international audience the tangible and intangible Dominican heritage. The objective comes from the firm belief that a practical culture, aware of its characteristics, is better applied, without damage and to the advantage of the common good.

Today, more than ever, humanity as a whole and our people as a part of it, need a breath of hope and solidarity. Cultural institutions around the world (museums, social organizations, research centers, conservatories of performing arts, dance, and music, amongst others), have understood their role in these times of doubt and pain: to entertain, to guide and to build confidence for better days to come. Culture is hope. That is the educational mission presented to us. To live through art and culture means to bring together knowledge from the past, present and future; creating connections between us and other latitudes. To live through art and culture means to nourish wit, human creativity, sensibility towards others, an idea of community and solidarity. We exist to develop and broadcast these human values.

Due to the country’s situation and the orders given to us by our authorities, we at Centro León have stopped our on-site work. Nevertheless, we have kept working from home: our first task has been to take care of our colleagues and their families - sharing information, following each case closely, so as to protect ourselves as a community. We have prepared a cultural offer available online in all our digital platforms to keep everyone entertained and learning. This offer comes from our collection at Centro León: virtual visits to artistic exhibitions, guides to the Dominican arts (visual art, music, culinary art, literature). We also made a selection of 20 artists and art groups that will exhibit their work at the 28 Eduardo León Jimenes Art Contest, which we were able to do via the internet with four members of the jury. We’re collaborating with renowned intellectuals and Dominican artists to create and enrich our proposal through social media, which will continue to grow in terms of topics and educational formats. This will help us reach a wider audience.

Centro León confirms today, more than ever, its compromise towards culture, in terms of how it contributes to human improvement, promoting the virtues that contribute to the common good. Following the tradition of our founders, the León family, Centro León expresses its commitment to the people of the Dominican Republic and the rest of world. We understand that we will overcome this crisis together, and together we will work for a better nation, a better world. May solidarity be our hope, and may our hope be the most sublime work of art of our national culture.

María Amalia León de Jorge

President of the Eduardo León Jimenes Foundation and director of Centro León