Go Cultura Foundation
8 jun. 2022
During the Curaçao Export Week 2022, Edjean Semeleer of Go Cultura Foundation Aruba was invited as speaker at our event; Creative Revolution: disrupting the industry.
During the Curaçao Export Week 2022, Edjean Semeleer of Go Cultura Foundation in Aruba was invited as speaker at our event; Creative Revolution: disrupting the industry.
With Curaçao celebrating 25 Years of #Willemstad on the #UNESCO World Heritage List, we got to ask both Edjean and Arthur, president of Go Cultura foundation, a couple of questions about the Creative Industries and their experience in Curaçao.
Can you please introduce yourself and the Go Cultura Foundation?
I am a singer, tv host, concert producer, and Aruban philanthropist. I have over 28 years of experience in the Creative Industries and since 2017 I am co-founder of Go Cultura Foundation. Here we focus on making the community more conscious about the importance of Arts & Culture and trying to influence decision-makers on the need to diversify the economy of Aruba.
I would describe myself as a cultural entrepreneur with architecture being my trade. I can defend myself in different aspects of a business. No matter what is required, I will be able to handle it. I am the president of the Go Cultura Foundation. As President, I focus on creating the vision and strategy of the foundation. Together as a team we make sure the vision and goals are accomplished.
Go Cultura Foundation
Go Cultura Foundation is a platform created as an important ally for the local creative and artist. Our organization aims to make people aware of the value of our culture and the creative force of our people. We facilitate a connection between the commercial sector and the Creative Industries, raising awareness of the importance of culture and creativity for the economy of Aruba.
Last February we gave an introductory workshop on “grant proposal writing” for projects in the Creative Industries. These workshops provide guidance while focusing on the capacity building and empowerment of our Creative Industries. In the upcoming months, we will continue organizing these workshops but also concerts, conferences, and more publications.
The Go Cultura Channel is our digital platform that in the future will host educational and entertaining programs such as historic and biographical documentaries. At the moment we are focusing on a documentary on the flag and national anthem of Aruba. Interviewing for instance the arranger of our national anthem in 1976 living currently in Tampa Florida. This person is 94 years old.
Our biggest endeavor at the moment is “Cultural and Creative Industries mapping”. The countries that have formalized and developed Cultural and Creative Industries have taken this step. All giving an impulse to their Orange Economy. You need to collect data, research who is part of our cultural and creative sectors, define which sub-sectors are present in the cultural and creative sectors. It is the only way you can define an effective and successful strategy.
How did your passion for the Cultural and Creative Industries start?
For as long as I can remember, I was singing at family parties as a kid. My first stage performance was in March of 1994. I was 10 years old performing at the Cas di Cultura of Aruba. From that moment, I was exposed to entertainment and then later on started organizing concerts in Aruba and performing in concerts in Curaçao and Bonaire.
My creative passion comes from my background in radio management and architectural studies. I have worked for numerous radio stations, sound and lighting companies and also have been active in organizing events since the start of my career.
We met each other in 2005 by organizing concerts and now we are defining the industry, making it more relevant and also attractive. It is during our ventures that we noticed how much impact and jobs our activities created, how important the Creative Industries are for our economy and how many sectors operate together in it.
Describe the potential of the Cultural and Creative Industries a.k.a. Orange Economy. What is your vision for the islands?
The potential lies in the mindset change. In the Orange Economy, you think in terms of enrichment instead of profits or finances. The Creative Industries are very sustainable, you are not wasting resources and the source is your own creativity. The more you use it, the more you have of it.
It provides wellness not only economically but also socially. It brings together communities, fortifies our identity as a nation, and creates a lot of job opportunities for especially women and young professionals ages 15 - 29 years. The Orange Economy has the potential to revive an abandoned city back to life. Make it interesting for people to invest again in the area. When we were younger, people would tell us that we should not choose to study art or music if we did not want to die of hunger. By formalizing and helping develop the Creative Industries, you make it easier for the next generation to become sustainable creative professionals. In addition, the creative entrepreneur will have a platform to grow.
What we are seeing in the future is that the next generation is more vocal and takes more initiative. They are not waiting on the government or any other organization to expose and develop their creativity. The government and institutions are making efforts to facilitate growth by supporting the vision. Aruba cannot wait any longer either, COVID19 demonstrated that. In our vision, this changing mindset plays an important part in the development of our cultural sector and in turn its community. We need to harvest our culture to maintain it starting with the Cultural and Creative Industries mapping of Aruba.
The cultures between Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire are similar in our traditions and cultural habits, morals, music, and food. In our vision, the Cultural and Creative Industries should be formalized together and create in turn opportunities to grow and transform our islands socially.
On this visit to Curacao, what did you notice about the Creative Industries, its people, and its potential?
Since we are from Aruba, you cannot avoid comparing. We both are fascinated by culture and the Creative Industries. When walking around in Willemstad, we absorbed, and were made aware of centuries of history being told. You feel something that took place in and around some of these buildings. Even in our boutique hotel, the charm of the wooden floors cracking makes it come alive. You notice the appreciation and consciousness of history. What we enjoyed seeing is that many restorations are happening in Curaçao of monumental buildings.
We also went to Cabana on Wednesday; you notice the vivid ambiance created by the live music performance. The saxophone, singing, and piano playing created a great atmosphere and dancing experience, a different experience compared to Aruba. We also walked from our hotel in Pietermaai to the Kura Hulanda area in Otrobanda. On our way there, we encountered a group playing traditional music, a solo guitar player, and a local folklore group dancing in the streets. Of course, there was a cruise ship in the harbor, yet you are seeing the efforts put into promoting the Creative Industries as a touristic product.
A tourist will look for events and traditions that are considered local. They would want to leave a hotel and find these non-general experiences. Visit a local landhuis (estates) and enjoy authentic cuisine with traditional music.
If you were an investor, what would be your Reason for investing in Curacao Right now?
The reason why I would want to invest is that I want to belong.
Back home the options of restoring a historic building are few. In Curaçao, you still have options to invest in a monumental building and restore part of the historic area of Willemstad. Especially with my architectural background, I feel the appreciation of such an investment to help preserve and maintain the historic value.
I would like to have the feeling of belonging, to have restored something that defines history and to have a story to tell to my guests.
With my investment, I want to assist in the preservation and exposure to the rich cultural history in Curaçao. It is particularly important to understand its identity. Who our ancestors were; what made us what we are today, and the community we are in?
I always try to think of a higher good; goals that are bigger than just me. Investing in the development of people and the mindset change required for us to achieve the opportunities. I want to be part of an effort to create such a platform that allows people the opportunity to develop themselves.
In Curaçao, I see this as an investment opportunity.