Cuenca’s new Director of Cultural Affairs, Diego Carrasco, believes improved planning of department projects will result in better service to the public.
Carrasco, a professor at the University of Azuay, has served director of culture for Azuay Province and as cultural counselor to the city of Quito. He is the founder of the School of Fine Arts at Quito’s Salesian University and of the University of Azuay’s School of Theater.
According to Carrasco, a budgetary shortfall is his most immediate challenge. In recent weeks, Cuenca’s cultural office has been forced to layoff several staff members and has suspended publication of its popular Cultural Agenda. “My priority is to promote a culture of proper planning and tighter management,” he says. “The current economic climate makes this an extremely tough job.”
The major operational issue in the Cultural Affairs office, Carrasco says is that too many projects have been funded without producing results. “The projects have been proposed by small groups of people, often no more than 15 or 20, and there is nothing to show for them,” he says. “Because of poor organization and lack of leadership these projects have become, in effect, orphans of government support.”
Carrasco plans to put more emphasis on projects at conceptual level to determine their value to the public and, if a project is determined to be justified, to make sure it is properly funded and stays on schedule.
Carrasco’s immediate dilemma is figuring out how to fund his office. The department’s annual budget of almost $1 million is almost depleted, eight months into the year. "We will try to be as creative as possible in resolving the crisis, in seeking new resources and new alliances to help us through the year.”
“Beyond finishing the year, we will put enormous importance on planning for next year. We need to coordinate with provincial and national cultural offices and involve the community more actively in the process.”