Since 1998, UNESCO has been safeguarding cultural domains and expression through its Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity title. With the aim to raise awareness and encourage local communities to preserve their culture, UNESCO’s declaration protects human creativity and links elements of diversity globally.1 As cultural industries and services for festive events such as Carnaval de Barranquilla are essential to their community, our partner in Barranquilla, Colombia is also helping to keep the festival’s celebration alive through support of its economic activity.
Every year, the city of Barranquilla celebrates Carnival in the days preceding Lent, with traditions influenced by the Caribbean, Spanish and African cultures of the region. Viewed as a boost for the region’s economy, Carnival celebrations serve as an engine that fuels the development of Latin American cities.2
In December 2022, our Co-CEO Sudha Bharadia, visited our partner to learn how their line of credit also fuels the public-private initiatives. Our partner shared that in both 2021 and 2022, they have supported Carnaval de Barranquilla’s operational cash flow needs. Although the celebration lasts for four days out of the year, Carnival as an institution is a year-round operation.
Our partner explains, “We grant advances, which are necessary and essential for the execution of contracts. Once the invoices are issued, they are endorsed in favor of the partner and the advance is replaced by a factoring operation.”
Museo del Carnaval, situated in the heart of Barranquilla, serves as a space that preserves the economic and cultural legacy of the festival. Owned by Carnaval de Barranquilla and led by an all-female team, the museum showcases the music, costumes, election of the Carnival Queen, and the heritage of Carnival.
Our partner has facilitated broad financial support – from the production of costumes, to product manufacturing of floats and accessories – enabling more than 55,000 jobs across media, crafts, theater, entertainment, tourism, and music for Carnaval de Barranquilla. As Carnival is referred to as ‘the foundation of the orange economy’ – meaning it is a key figure pioneering the future of creative industries in Latin America – the impact of this credit is ultimately felt by the small creative businesses that engineer the festival.3 For example, over four days, 117 groups such as Negritas Puloy and 150 Rumbon Normalista dancers are actively involved in the celebration that contributes to the GDP of the city.
Our partner has supported the festival consecutively, giving it the liquidity it needs not only for the four days of celebration, but for its function as an institution all year round. Year after year they have facilitated the transfer of economic contract rights, whose purpose is to sustain the development of actions aimed at activating the Carnival Museum as a strategy for the dissemination and safeguarding of the Barranquilla Carnival Heritage Festival. In addition to its heritage title and cultural position, our partner is empowering the development of economic benefits for the city’s festival, its inhabitants, and future generations to come.
1 https://ich.unesco.org/en/dive&display=threat – tabs