There aren't many neighborhoods in Florida as iconic and underrated as Little Havana. Along Calle Ocho, the smell of cafecitos and guava pastries fills the air. As you stroll by perennially jammed Versailles and hole-in-the-wall stores with quinceañera dresses primly unfurled in display windows, you get the clear impression you're somewhere distinct.
You're at the hub of the Cuban experience in South Florida, perhaps even the country. It is with this perspective of Little Havana that staff workers at the Washington, D.C.-based organization National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) have partnered with Heineken to develop an art project to retain the neighborhood's historic and cultural identity.
"We're going to have two artists — a writer and a photographer — shadow residents ranging in age and ethnic backgrounds to show a day in the life of a Little Havana resident: the stores they shop at, the places they frequent, the people they talk with," Jason Clement, NTHP's director of community outreach, says. "The aim is to to showcase what makes Little Havana unique."
Little Havana is one of ten historic American sites, including Waikiki Natatorium in Hawaii and Pioneer Square in Seattle, that are currently featured in Heineken’s Cities Project, a multiyear program. “Since 2015, the Cities Project by Heineken has supported innovative projects across America that aim to make great U.S. cities even greater,” Katharine Preville, the brand manager for Heineken USA, says in a statement. “This partnership takes the effort to a new level and serves as a catalyst for these incredible projects."
Heineken's Cities Project team has partnered with singer Bruno Mars this month to offer concert tickets to the pop star's sold-out 24K Magic Tour. Users must select the Little Havana art project on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. By making a $150 contribution to the effort, fans can nab a pair of the coveted tickets. However, they are available only on a first-come, first-served basis.
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“I really like what the Heineken Cities Project is doing for cultural and arts centers around the country, and they’ve put a big emphasis on my home state of Hawaii, so I was happy to support them and Indiegogo through my tour,” Mars says in a statement.
The National Trust is working with an artist collective right in Calle Ocho, which is in the final stages of selecting artists to work on the project. Heineken reps expect the art project to commence in July. Their work will then be displayed in a Little Havana art gallery in October or November.
"In a way, we’re using art to make art happen," Clement says about partnering with Mars to help the effort come together.
If you're interested in contributing to the art project and nabbing 24K Magic tickets, visit indiegogo.com. You can also text “CITIES” to 88500 to receive a link to the Indiegogo Little Havana project page.