This past Friday, officials of the Cuban and Italian governments signed an agreement in support of the theater arts program at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA).

An area in Gottardi’s School of Theater Arts

The project, called Que no baje el telón (Don’t drop the curtain), includes a contribution from Italy of 2.5 million euros (about US$2.8 million). The funding will support the renovation and restoration of ISA’s original theater arts complex. The theater complex was designed as part of the National Art Schools by Italian-born architect Roberto Gottardi (1927–2017) with his colleagues, Italian architect Vittorio Garratti and Cuban architect Ricardo Porro (1925–2014).

A passageway in the Theater Arts complex
Photo: Benjamin Murray, courtesy Unfinished Spaces, © 2011

In addition to the architectural restoration, the project will support ISA’s artistic and teaching activities, staff training, and local and international events. The department of architecture of the University of Florence, the Cuban Ministry of Culture, the Cuban International Collaboration Center, and ISA will all be involved in the project, along with the Havana municipality of Playa, where ISA is located.

The Italian contribution comes a few months after the US-based Getty Foundation announced a US$195,000 grant to develop a comprehensive restoration plan for the National Art Schools. That grant was awarded last October to the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano—part of the largest engineering, architecture, and design university in Italy—to act as the lead organizer in a consortium of conservation professionals.

A view of the National Art Schools complex
Courtesy Boat Magazine