We wanted to create a space equipped with the necessary tools for artists to showcase their work as they would in any professional stage.
The venue would also provide audiences and customers with the experience of being in a “loft-style” theater, inspired by similar venues in the 70’s and early 80’s in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
By 2005, the Puertorrican arts industry was growing. With the arrival of the internet as a free platform for communication and marketing, artists where rapidly promoting their work. However, there were few venues available to present their work live. In 2006, the Puertorrican government established “La llave para tu negocio” (The key to your business) program to restore and help promote the economic industry in Puerto Rico.
Need for More Creative
Araba offered artists of all genres the opportunity to present and promote their projects to a live audience and have the same experience as they would in a theater production in an "off-Broadway" stage.
We wanted our venue to be appealing to audiences outside the college community. We wanted to attract people who enjoyed the arts to learn about emerging artists and support their work. Our goal was to bridge the gap between generations and social classes to provide equal access to arts and culture.
Arts and Culture have always been key in the process of educating our society and creating conversations around topics that need to be addressed by our politicians and leaders. Araba aimed to be a place where people of different backgrounds could enjoy but also learn by providing educational tools and instilling hope for a better future.
Developing the Concept
When searching for a rental space that provided us with the features needed for artists and customers it was hard to find a venue that was “ready to go”. We took over an abandoned restaurant in Santurce. This 5k SF venue was converted to a soundproof theater with a mezzanine that served as an art gallery.
On August 2007 Araba Café Teatro opened its doors to our community. It wasn’t long till hundreds of applications started coming in for information and booking.
Local and international artists performed in Araba. Many emerging
artists made their first appearance on our stage, with music album releases, and weekly stand-up comedy shows. We became a place for local independent movie releases, and tributes to illustrious figures of our culture took place in Araba. It became the platform for our community to meet, engage, and follow new artists.
Not all business plans have a happy ending. Unfortunately, Araba was not producing a sustainable revenue. We had the artists' backing but not the clientele. Based on the profits and losses on the first 18 months and the financial outlook in the immediate future, the organization’s board decided it was best to close the space.
Three years later, the building that held the Café was indicted and all businesses were forced to close.
Door of Opportunities For New Artists
Not all was lost. During the 2 years Araba was open, we managed to open a door for artists, the majority of which to this day are still working actively in our local and international scene.
Slowly other venues opened up for the industry. I remain convinced Araba was the trailblazer in this arena.