Cuban delegates visit Ybor City to learn about area’s emerging art scene

Seven delegates from Cuba’s Ministry of Culture visited Kress Contemporary in Ybor City to learn about Tampa’s emerging art scene and how Cuban culture ties into it.

Kress Contemporary is a fine arts facility on 7th Avenue that’s home to galleries, the Tampa City Ballet, and over two dozen resident artists.  

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It is going through a big expansion, and the local organization Ybor Art Factory worked to bring the Cuban delegates to Tampa to show them what is going on.

Their goal is for the Cuban Ministry of Culture to work directly with local artists in Tampa.

That comes with some challenges, though, as artists in Cuba do not have the same freedom of expression as artists in the U.S. have.

Several musicians and visual artists were sent to prison with arbitrary sentences, some more than a decade, for producing art that the Cuban government didn’t agree with, according to the human rights organization Amnesty International. 

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FOX 13 spoke with organizers of the delegates’ visit about this, but they said they didn’t want the visit to be about politics and wanted to focus on the arts.

“Unfortunately, everything in Cuba, some people want to make it political,” Vicente Amor, an organizer with Ybor Art Factory, said. “We are beyond that we are focusing, human beings, we are human beings, as human beings, we interact with art.”

According to Amnesty International, many artists in Cuba have been imprisoned for expressing themselves through their craft ever since protests broke out across Cuba in July 2021, where Cubans called for less government control.

Kress Contemporary says it is a safe space for all artists.

“If you have a career in fine arts, and you are an art professional, it is your job to not worry about who sees the work; the idea is for everyone to see the work,” said Tracy Midulla, an organizer with Kress Contemporary.

Midulla said artists in Cuba just don’t have that luxury.

It’s unclear as to what the next steps are after Sunday’s tour.

Kress Contemporary says its big expansion will help keep up with the city’s emerging arts industry, and will give them space to partner or collaborate with more artists across the region, country, and globe. 

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