By Daniel Benitez, Havana Times, May 8, 2015
Cubans appear less and less interested in going to the movies, visiting museums, going to libraries or seeing stage plays – activities that are no longer among families’ entertainment or educational priorities.
The impact of the weekly movie and series package and the deterioration of cultural institutions are apparently affecting the public, who prefer to watch a TV series or foreign show at home rather than leave the house to catch a show (generally no more expensive than five Cuban pesos or 25 cents USD).
Theater shows have been the most affected by this trend, suffering a drastic drop in turnouts. In 2013, nearly eight million tickets to plays were sold. This figure dropped to 4,541,000 in 2014, 43 percent less than the previous year, official statistics report.
Visits to Cuba’s extensive 316-museum network also dropped to five million, from seven million visitors a mere 12 months ago.
Less Spectators, More Dancers
Figures reported by Cuba’s National Statistics Bureau (ONE) also reveal downward trends in cinema and video-projection locale attendance, which dropped by nearly half a million visitors. The figure contrasts with the number of festivals and events organized to draw audiences, as part of a cultural strategy that does not appear to be working.
The situation is not much different for libraries. The number of users has dropped considerably.
Though culture, arts and sports had a budget of 1.631 billion Cuban pesos in 2014, this sum of money is not reflected in the number of people attending artistic activities. This is coupled with the deterioration of cultural institutions and the scant appeal of many plays and other shows staged year after year.
The 2014 Cuban Economic and Social Panorama reflects that dance music continues to be preferred option, reporting 56.5 million entrances, five million more than in 2013.
Amateur and professional art exhibitions at galleries and other facilities also drew more visitors than the previous year.