North America and Caribbean Desk
Written by: Chase Finney, Saybrook College ’22
In the past two decades, the city of Havana has continued to develop slowly but surely. Heavy investment reliance on countries such as China and Russia seems to signal accelerated progress in the near future, especially on the technological and economic front. However, it is not guaranteed that this will spell well for the city, or more generally Cuba, in the long-run.
In the meantime, as culturally vibrant as Havana is, it’s no surprise that some of the city’s residents have not let this potential future overshadow their artistic and entrepreneurial desires. Established in 2014, La Fábrica de Arte Cubano (aka F.A.C) quickly became a weekend go-to spot for Cubans ages 18 to 88. The venue mainly serves as an art gallery and nightclub. However, everyone can easily find something to enjoy on the three levels of the building.
Strangely enough, the building now known as F.A.C was originally a cooking oil factory that operated through the early 20th century. Following the Depression of the 30s, the factory fell into disrepair and was not in use until 2010, when a group of local musicians and artists acquired the space as a centralized location to share their works. From this artistic community, musician X Alfonso worked to spread the community to larger Havana, eventually spearheading F.A.C as it stands today.
The original purpose of the space is evident at every turn. The various galleries showcase bold and compelling exhibits. For example, at the time of my visit, exhibits explored themes such as the diversity of beauty in Cuban women, the emasculation of wealthy men, and the modern application of traditional diasporic Yoruba symbols. Additionally, each level hosts various music styles, allowing visitors to choose the musical environment for their night. My
This being said, U.S. influence is also fairly prevalent in F.A.C. For example, the walls of the room in which the aforementioned set was performed are lined with posters featuring artists ranging from The Jackson 5 to U2. When I entered one of the bar spaces on the second level, I was greeted with a large projector playing Lizzo music videos. This form of international familiarity is likely a contributor to the venue’s recent popularity amongst tourists. In fact, F.A.C was named in this year’s TIME Magazine edition of the World’s 100 Greatest Places.
With the success that F.A.C has seen in just five years of operation, hopefully, this incredible space and its vision will continue to bring Cubans and even tourists together for years to come.
“Fábrica de Arte Cubano: The World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2019.” TIME, TIME Magazine, 2019, https://time.com/collection/worlds-greatest-places-2019/5654125/fabrica-de-arte-cubano-havana-cuba/
Moya, Valentina. “More Investment in Cuba: Russia Increases Its Economic Presence.” Latin American Post, Latin American Post, 19 February 2019, https://latinamericanpost.com/26481-more-investment-in-cuba-russia-increases-its-economic-presence.
Siegelbaum, Portia. “Havana’s New Place To Be – In a Factory Transformed.” CBS News, CBS News, 28 March 2014, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/havanas-new-place-to-be-in-a-factory-transformed/.
Urrechaga, Raimundo. “Cuba Welcomes More Chinese Investment, Visitors to Boost Tourism.” Xinhua, Xinhua, 20 September 2018, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-09/20/c_137481986.htm.