The former Villa Music building on Ponce De León avenue in Santurce will be transformed into a creative and cultural entrepreneurship center through an initiative by Sacred Heart University’s Nuestro Barrio: Distrito Cultural de Santurce program, the president of the institution, Gilberto J. Marxuach-Torrós, announced.
The 22,000 square-foot space, a few steps from the university, will be created using a $1.9 million contribution from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Construction will begin in March 2020 and the center is expected to open in early 2021.
“The university’s vision is to transcend borders and for that we have to go beyond our own walls and integrate into the city. The momentum of Santurce’s socio-economic development is a new way of achieving university. We want to build, together with the community, new spaces for creation and innovation,” said Marxuach-Torrós.
Sacred Heart’s Collaborative Innovation Center — NEUUKO is steering the initiative. The Center’s executive director, Javier De Jesús Martínez, said after the passage of Hurricane María, many small and medium-sized businesses in the area had nowhere to operate.
“That’s where the idea is born to revitalize these two buildings. We want to open new spaces for Santurce’s creative companies to grow. It will also allow us to expand our Innovation Center for the benefit of the business community,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was announced that the call for the second edition of the “La Cepa” program, a business training initiative for Santurce’s creative industries will open in January 2020.
The 23 companies that participated in the first edition successfully completed their workshops and mentoring cycle. As a result, six companies created new products that have strengthened their offer, De Jesús said.
“In this process, Sacred Heart’s faculty was key to continue educating our entrepreneurs. Similarly, the Center for Collaborative Innovation’s FabLab allowed the creation of prototypes that helped the commercialization of new products,” De Jesús said.
The Nuestro Barrio initiative also unveiled its new website, a collaborative effort to advertise the services and events of all Santurce creative companies in all fields: art, dance, cinema, music, theater, gastronomy, tourism, among others.
Companies in the area can register and communicate their events on an ongoing basis. The page is expected to become an important means to inform the general public and visitors who come to the island about all artistic and creative activity taking place in Santurce, a sector of San Juan.