Only a few hours ago, in the Sala Avellaneda of the National Theater, the Excelencias Awards Cuba 2019 ceremony was concluded, which on this occasion were nuanced by the presentation of the Havana 500 Special Award, echo of the celebrations for the half century of the Cuban capital, a party in which the Excelencias Group, chaired by José Carlos de Santiago, through its publications or using other information media, provided special coverage.
A hallmark of this installment of the Excelencias Cuba Awards - launched in 2010 as a continuation of those already presented at the International Tourism Fair of Madrid (Fitur) - is that for the first time the public has been able to vote, through a website created especially for this, participate in the final election of the winners in each category by a jury who secretly votes and chooses from a wide and varied selection of projects that are proposed not only from Cuba.
The Excelencias Award is a source of pride for all the winners, as it constitutes a recognition "to entities, personalities and projects with a strong vocation for their social contribution, and aims to promote excellence." There are hundreds of nominees, all of whom belong to the tourism, gastronomy, public health, sports, art, culture and motor world.
The Arte por Excelencias Awards were presented on this occasion to Liuba María Hevia (one of the highest exponents of contemporary Cuban culture, of a high poetic level, melodic and rhythmic variety in her compositions), National Folkloric Ensemble (emblematic dance group that has cultivated Cuban folklore for over fifty years, with works of high artistic value and true to its essence), Lesbia Vent Dumois (of outstanding artistic career of a lifetime, committed to her time through her intense work, recently recognized with the National Prize of Plastic Arts), Faílde Orchestra (for its project of rescue and renovation of the danzón in Cuba and Mexico, and for promoting the twinning between Veracruz, Havana, and its hometown, Matanzas), Alain Pérez (with an extensive musical work of stylistic and sound renovation in Cuban dance music), Ivette Cepeda (for her work in son, bolero, jazz, bossa nova, cancion and the fusion, framed in a wide musical repertoire), Juan Padrón (cartoonist, illustrator, cartoonist, screenwriter and director of Cuban cinema, who is internationally recognized for his most emblematic creation: the cartoon Elpidio Valdés), Roclan and the Ballet Revolution (who have represented Cuba in the most diverse world stages of the show, renewing the choreographic concept and achieving a very contemporary stamp), Casa de la Guayabera (promoter of the safeguarding of the Cuban national garment, treasuring the largest collection in Cuba) and Luciano Castillo (director of the Cinemateca de Cuba, one of the flagship institutions of cinematographic art on the Island).
José Carlos de Santiago, in his words of greeting to the winners, said: «We have come to do something for society, something for people. We want to recognize the social vocation of our citizens, reward the best service of our scientists, our artists, our athletes, businessmen and cooperatives. That commitment, of course, is to your country and to its citizens. It is an immense pleasure for our Excelencias Group to recognize Cuba, not only in this scenario. We have to put our grain of sand, and keep it shining through that grain of sand that we provide. And it shines because there are many people who have left their lives, and leave it every day, so that this can happen».
Similarly, the winners expressed their feelings. Ethiel Faílde, dedicated the award to the excellent Omara Portuondo and the masters of traditional Cuban music. He also recognized the system of artistic education in Cuba, from which they are the result, and the members of his orchestra.
For her part, Ivette Cepeda shared with those present her joy and said that this merit has not been a personal title but of a team where the Reflexión group is. For them, she said, it is the opportunity to be representing art and the search for excellence, especially for the Cuban public that is so faithful.
Alain Pérez said he was happy to be among so many professional artist colleagues and thanked for the recognition of being part of the Excelencias family.
Luciano Castillo thanked the Excelencias Group gesture and paid tribute to the recently deceased Cuban filmmaker Nelson Rodríguez while Juan Padrón dedicated the award to the animators who since the 70s worked on the character Elpidio Valdés and the master and vocal genius Frank Padrón.
At the conclusion of the Excellencias del Arte Awards, Mr. José Carlos de Santiago thanked all the artists who participated in the gala for which "we have had a different light today" and dedicated a few words of praise in particular to the plastic artist Lesbia Vent Dumois, for being the person who encouraged him to launch the Arte por Excelencias project.
He recalled how in the beginning the Excelencias Group had a tourist magazine, one of gastronomy, one of motor, «but we lacked the art, the art that is the natural source of this country. Lesbia led us, helped us and encouraged us ». He affirmed that today “we need to communicate all the art of this country and of Latin America; therefore, thanks to the internet we have been able to reach all people. It has been almost 10 years before it happened with the force we want; but with an application -which we suggest everyone to download and that they can have on their cell phone: Excelencias- you will have the possibility, like millions of people, to access all our publications for free and, of course, Arte por Excelencias, it is among them. Lesbia has a fulfilled objective and also we, for that reason, among other things, this recognition».