Siente Bellas Artes: Heart for Art

Antonio Maria Valencia, a passionate musician and composer from Columbia had a dream—to preserve the rich musical culture of Columbian music. In 1931, this very dream led him to establish a conservatory in the city of Cali that became ‘Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes’. However, this dream, Antonio’s vision and the hopes of thousands of artists, musicians and designers is in perils because in a controversial decision, the government has pulled of its financial support and funding for this very prestigious institute.

The streets of Cali are today filled with student protestors carrying slogans of disbelief with dancers and musicians who’ve also joined this ever-increasing brigade of peaceful demonstrators. In this effort of resilience, the students, teachers, their well wishers and lovers of art fight back to preserve the very existence of Bellas Artes. The student community doesn’t have much choice—the government’s decision has put the students, their teachers and the institute in a very tight spot. The decision to stop the funds that support this place could eventually result in a complete collapse of this institute. To retain this iconic institute, the students and their teachers need the government’s support and the support of the international design community.

The media is taking some interest in their story but the institute seeks the support of able organisations like ICOGRADA & AIGA who could eventually take their message on a global platform. We were contacted by Dulima Herández seeking support and this is what she had to say:

“Bellas Artes, es una universidad pública que ofrece a estudiantes de sectores populares, educación en Música, Arte Dramático y Artes Visuales (Plásticas y Diseño Gráfico). Actualmente, está atravesando por una difícil situación económica debido a que el gobierno no ha hecho los aportes correspondientes a este año y porque adicionalmente, nos debe sumas importantes por otros rubros. Sabemos que todo esto hace parte de las políticas neoliberales que buscan privatizar la educación ahondando y perpetuando la brecha entre pobres y ricos…”

Fine Arts, is a public university that offers students of popular sectors, education in Music, Drama and Visual Arts (Visual and Graphic Design). Currently, is going through a difficult economic situation because the government has not made contributions for this year… We know that all this is part of the neoliberal policies that seek to privatize education deepening and perpetuating the gap between rich and poor…

— Dulima Hernández
Faculty of Design at School of Visual & Applied Arts

Bellas Artes has had a long heritage and a rich legacy of artists, musicians and designers who’ve shared the beautiful culture of Columbia with the world. A rich diversity in the world of art, culture and design is made possible by the efforts of students and individuals who rely on a place like Bellas Artes. Everyone cannot be in the streets of Cali to show their support but the least we can do is share their message and show our support. VSUAL urges all designers, design educators, artists, musicians and art lovers to support this campaign. You can extend your support to the students and faculty members of Bellas Artes by sharing your message in comments below. They also have a facebook page that you can like and share. You may also write to the institute showing your support or send signed petitions. Detailed information about the institute is available after the protest images (click on a thumbnail open images in carousel).

Photo Credits: Elizabeth Mesa Ruiz & Chris Lozano, Cali, Columbia
Special thanks to Dulima Hernández for bringing this issue to our notice.


Departmental Institute of Fine Arts
Original Name: Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes
Founding Year: 1936
Accreditation: Institutional Accreditation or Recognition Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Colombia
Undergraduate Program
Licenciatura en Música: Five years. Studies in performance (classical, popular), composition, music history, theory, pedagogy. There is an opera program.
Graduate Program
Programme detail:
 Graduate Programme in Arts Management for a duration of three semesters.

History: The Institute offers programs in music, visual arts and drama. It was founded in 1936 and houses the Conservatorio Antonio María Valencia which forms the Faculty of Music (Facultad de Música). In addition to the professional program there are music programs in performance and theory at basic and middle levels as well as ensembles for children and interested persons.

Contact Information:
Departmental Institute of Fine Arts, Avenida 2 Norte No. 7N-38, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
Phone: +57 (923) 667 3371


VSUAL is a student-centric design magazine that showcases the best work in the fields of graphic design, visual arts, photography and films.

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