Cuba, US agree to deepen cultural cooperation

Havana, April 22 (IANS) The first official US cultural delegation to Cuba ended its four-day visit to the island country with both sides agreeing to deepen bilateral cultural cooperation.

The delegation, composed of more than 70 members of the US President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, that ended its trip on Thursday, arrived in Havana on Monday to promote cultural relations, discuss new opportunities for exchanges and challenges in furthering cooperation, Xinhua news agency reported.

During the visit, the US National Endowment for Arts (NEA) decided to offer federal funding that will allow the US artists to perform in Cuba.

“This will be the first time for a US government institution to provide financial support for an initiative of this kind (in Cuba),” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu.

William Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, announced that a delegation of the US professionals and students specializing in heritage conservation will soon make a trip to Cuba.

Besides, the Smithsonian Institute, a group of museums and research centers administered by the US government, and the Cuban National Council of Cultural Heritage, signed an agreement on expanding cooperation.

Dave Matthews, a US musician and producer, told Xinhua that he was moved by the Cuban people and the Caribbean nation’s cultural knowledge.

“Culture is vibrant and around every corner (in Cuba). Hopefully it stays that way and when big companies come to the island I hope all these rich cultural elements will not be allowed to disappear,” he added.

Matthews said he was proud to be a member of the first official US cultural delegation to visit Cuba since the two countries restored their diplomatic ties in 2015.

Actor Kalpen Suresh said the decision made by leaders of both countries to normalise bilateral relations was the right one to begin a new path of understanding between Cuba and the US.

“I will take a very positive message to the White House about this visit. Cuba is beautiful, its people are very friendly and I am very anxious to start sharing with Cuban artists,” Suresh said.

Other members of the delegation included famous singers such as Usher and Smokey Robinson, actors John Lloyd and Alfre Woodard.

–IANS

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