An interesting story out of Canada describes an ambitious project to make Suchitoto a center for theater in El Salvador and all of Central America:
A town in El Salvador, once known as much for the killing and upheaval of the country's civil war as for its architectural beauty, is being helped by Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival to become a major new centre for theatre and the arts in Central America.
An ambitious program called Sharing a Dream, scheduled to be announced today, will combine the efforts of aid agencies, municipal governments and the festival to export the Canadian repertory theatre company's model to the impoverished El Salvador town of Suchitoto.
With its cobblestone streets and centuries-old colonial buildings, Suchitoto already has a large theatre (albeit one that requires extensive renovation) and a technical school. The aim is to bring the two together to create not only a theatre program but a theatre-arts school, which would be the only one of its kind in Central America.
The larger goal is to revitalize a ravaged little town through the arts. "The community there is in exactly the same situation that Stratford, Ont., was [at its inception]," says Stratford Festival general director Antoni Cimolino.
Granted, Stratford wasn't struggling from the effects of a civil war when its festival was introduced in 1953, nor had Stratford lost much of a generation due to fighting. But the Ontario town, like Suchitoto, was in serious economic trouble a half-century ago. Stratford's economy had been centred on the repair of steam engines and on furniture manufacturing. When those industries went into decline, it was the now-renowned festival that saved the town.
The idea is to replicate that turnaround in Suchitoto. (more)