“Understanding Cuba is something you can’t do in two hours,” affirms Lisa Cirenza, who completed an Artist Residency at ROOSTERGNN in Cuba in summer 2018. According to Cirenza, Cuba is an ever-changing place, a place of “narratives [that] are changing right now,” a country with “significant contrasts.”

These quotes are just snippets of the experience Cirenza had during her time in Cuba. Her experience, fully documented here on RGNN.org, along with the experiences of many previous artists, are an attest to the fact that Cuba is an ideal place to complete an Artist Residency. Here’s ten reasons just to get you started.

1. Travel back in time

A trip to Cuba is one you will never forget. From the classic cars to cowboys and horses on the streets, your time here will bring you back to another decade. This unique backdrop makes Cuba a perfect location for artists to be inspired.

2. Cuba’s rich artistic scene

From street art to musicians to, of course, Cuban salsa dancing, Cuba is an ideal location for a variety of artists. You’ll find traditional art museums alongside modern art galleries, cultural factories and an ever-growing street art scene with world-famous streets such as the Callejón de Hamel (just google or Instagram it, you’ll be inspired!).

3. Cuba is changing constantly

Policies with regards to Cuba are constantly changing, and because of this artists can take advantage of a unique political climate, by exploring how the political implications affect the artistic and cultural world of the island.

4. You have to be in Cuba to understand Cuba

Cuba cannot be understood simply by reading a history book. Understanding Cuba takes a good understanding of its past, and its present, which means actually going there to see the culture and people, in person. Rather than looking places up in a tour guide, artists can see first-hand what the pearl of the Caribbean has to offer.

Cuba’s history revolves around revolutions, the most famous being the revolution initiated by Fidel Castro in the 1950s. These revolutions offer amazing stories and many photo opportunities because of the various famous sites available around the country.

Havana, Cuba | Toomas Tartes

5. The people

Cubans might not have many of the modern day things readily available to others, but this does not dampen their spirits. As Cirenza notes, the Cuban people are “romantic and enjoyable” people to be around. They are friendly to foreigners, which is ideal for artists who want to conduct interviews and learn first-hand from the Cuban people.

6. Havana, oo-na-na

From the artistic Biennales, to Chanel’s runway show, the rolling stones and the visit of Obama, Havana has been home to a historic number of cultural and political events. The city is a great location for artists to explore, especially the old town which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Beyond Havana

If you have the time, explore Cuba beyond the capital city. Its other UNESCO World Heritage sites, especially the town of Trinidad, are well worth seeing. And the nature that abounds in places such as to Viñales is stunning. Explore!

8. The blend of cultures and races

Cuba is a cocktail of races and cultures. It is especially worth noting that there is little race and gender discrimination on the island. Races and genders blend naturally in Cuba, and you will see this reflected not only in everyday life but in the artistic scene as well.

9. The laid-back lifestyle

Cuba is representative of the Caribbean in the sense that the laid-back lifestyle is also present here. Enjoy a stroll through the old town, buy some artisanal chocolates, sip a Cuban coffee, and enjoy a view of the Malecón, Havana’s world-famous boardwalk.

10. Traditional artistic practices

Cuba is a great place to delve into traditional artistic practices. From painting to cigar rolling, you can observe local artists, many times working in shops and practices that are open to the public. Learn, interview and get inspired by them!

To complement all of this, the ROOSTERGNN Artist Residency in Cuba includes accommodation at “boutique” Cuban houses with Cuban families, allowing artists to get a true look at local culture!

If you are interested in applying for our Artist Residency in Cuba, please visit the link here.