Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, with a population of 3.6 million inhabitants, is one of the cultural epicentres of the Hispanic Caribbean, known for its vibrant and diverse musical heritage: Merengue, bachata, son, salsa, classical, latin Jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, perico ripiao, urban music, tropical fusion and many other traditional and contemporary rhythms. Today Santo Domingo boasts more than 2,000 companies dedicated to this sector, with a productive population equivalent to 12.5%, registering 468,324 people employed in cultural and creative activities.
Santo Domingo is a city with no fewer than seven major music festivals. Of these, the most famous is the spectacular Fundación Sinfonía: Santo Domingo Music Festival. Founded in 1997, the festival, a biennial event, presents musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra as well as celebrated orchestras from the United States of America and Europe. This world-renowned exposition has placed the Dominican Republic on the music world map. For Santo Domingo’s youth, every year the streets come alive with the Barbarella electronic music festival. Headlining world famous actors and award-winning DJs, this is one of the Caribbean’s most anticipated electro festival. In 2018, the city saw the launch of the Isle of Light Festival, an indie and electronic music festival. Featuring a scenic setting and top tier stage production, the festival has become the premier musical gathering on the island, with many international, top award-winning artists headlining, as well as showcasing new musical talent from the region.
Throughout the year, the local government sponsors events that promote the participation of professionals in the field of music. On a national level, Proyectos Culturales is a programme of decentralization of cultural policies within the Ministry of Culture, with the aim of allowing creators and cultural managers to propose and manage their own projects. Through this programme, the city has benefited in the development of folk groups, dance companies and the craft of musical instruments.
As a Creative City of Music, Santo Domingo envisages:
- promoting creativity and innovation as an axis of sustainable urban development and social inclusion for metropolitan planning in Greater Santo Domingo;
- strengthening the musical education and entrepreneurship for activating culture industries and tourism supported by heritage;
- establishing cross-cutting projects with the participation of all sectors, with emphasis on youth and vulnerable groups, through the promotion of peace and social integration in the local communities;
- developing a world-class creative pole of the Caribbean music industries; and
- creating a local Network of Creative Cities to share experience and learning among other Dominican cities and with the UCCN members worldwide.
Ching Ling Ho Shum
General Coordinator, Dominican Republic of the Creative Cities and Territories Network