The Ingenia Funds: An opportunity for social innovation projects

Culture and Community

A look at new forms of public awareness and participation through culture at the City of Knowledge, through various forms of artistic expressions

To talk about social change is to explore the way in which human interactions and relationships transform cultural and social institutions over time, which has a profound impact on society. Social change can come from different random sources, such as climate, technology or the presence of a group of people among others, but it can also be due to systematic factors, such as social organization and the incidence of governments. However, what we may forget is that culture is also a source of social change.

In fact, culture is a key element in ensuring the success of social change. Culture, after all, represents a people, which is often the basis for understanding and determining its future. In addition, culture shapes innovation, people’s identities and can serve as the glue that reinforces social cohesion, creating bridges between groups and people.

In short, culture and social change go hand in hand in the transformation process necessary to advance society. For this reason, society must take the necessary actions to understand and defend those positive cultural changes that it deems necessary.

All of this may sound abstract, but the reality is that people have the collective power to influence social change. Culture is one of those tools that we can use in the face of feelings of powerlessness due to changes in our society. To the extent that we are concerned about the direction society is taking, we can try to shape it, and together help in the process of change to do something better.

The City of Knowledge Foundation seeks to strengthen the cultural and creative sector of the country and stimulate citizen participation through the formulation and execution of projects that contribute to social innovation and community participation on the CdS campus. That is why, in 2020, the idea of ​​the Ingenia Fund began to be formulated, as an investment mechanism in Panama’s cultural and creative sector for projects that help contribute to the strategic lines of the Culture and Community Division at the foundation.

For Davinia Uriel Abad, Manager of Culture and Community at the City of Knowledge Foundation, “the Ingenia Fund materializes the work that we have been doing for years at the City of Knowledge with the support of various initiatives and project sponsorships. They normalize and expand the opportunity for those who may not have dared to do this kind of project for different reasons. In this way, the projects will not only be more aligned with the City of Knowledge’s mission, but it is one more step to continue professionalizing the culture sector. Managers, artists, groups, among others, will have the opportunity to present a project to an economic fund with well-defined guidelines, objectives, goals and commitments to fulfill,” she explained.

One of these projects becomes relevant today in the framework of Earth Day. “Deshielo”, an artistic project that illustrates the effect of climate change and pollution. It is an installation that emulates an iceberg that will be installed in the central quadrangle at the City of Knowledge. The project involves the active participation of the community and is inviting people, upon previous registration, to experience art and become aware, at the same time, of this environmental issue.

Eleonora Dall`Asta, artist, Artistic Director of La Tribu Performance and El Cuarto Rojo agrees on art’s awareness potential: “art is transformative; it makes us travel with the mind and expand our imagination, it has the power to make us think and the most important thing is that it reaches inside, it connects us with important issues through the senses and makes us excited whatever our status quo,” she says.

Another project that benefited from the Ingenia Fund, involved the development of Plataforma Circo, “a creative residence for the contemporary circus in Panama,” according to Dall’Asta.

The idea this year was to have a guest director and expert in building bamboo structures so that he could lead a virtual artistic process lasting two weeks, with 2 interpreters in that discipline. The artists selected for this piece were Sara Martín and Ana Sofía Riba, from Panama, and the director Cesar Martínez Hernández, from Mexico.

At the end of the two-week creation period, the final project was presented with a small sample at the Urban Market.

For Dall’Asata, carrying out projects like this means contributing to give a necessary boost to culture in terms of contemporary circus, which is a growing discipline with very little support. She highlights the importance of generating these spaces to “listen, analyze, evaluate, apply new ideas, support; that is ‘cultural’ innovation, she adds.

For Marlyn Attie, Co-Director of the Espacio Creativo Foundation, another of the beneficiaries of the fund this year, art is the most powerful tool for connecting with other people from emotion: “it allows us to go beyond ‘reason’ and relate from the subconscious,” she explains.

Through the Ingenia fund, Espacio Creativo developed the SCENARIO project, in collaboration with Mauro Colombo. “Between us we seeked to express in this piece of video-dance the absence of the stages in 2020,” added Attie. The dancers Jonathan Valdivieso, Joameth Manzane, Adrián Morales and Jaime Ruiz contributed with the movement. Davide Fiorentin composed the music for the piece; David Colindres, Carla Morely, Analida Galindo provided technical support.

Lastly, the Manager of Culture and Community at the City of Knowledge Foundation points out that when, from the Vice Presidency of Communications, it was decided to assign three Ingenia funds as a prototype, the objective was “to carry out an exercise to analyze how the relationship would go with the beneficiaries, the execution times, what we could expect from them and, in turn, what they could expect from the Foundation. 

However, during the development of the prototype, we quickly concluded that we should constitute the Fund as such, that the research and the experimentation of the projects on campus during the project execution period was a fundamental part and the important basis for the gratifying results that these projects always deliver, ” she explained.

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