The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (El MAC) is a collecting institution and vibrant cultural center that, in Hurricane Maria’s wake, was transformed into an emergency relief hub for the multicultural, densely populated, majority low-income Santurce district of San Juan. Beginning in 2018, Hester Street partnered with El MAC and San Juan’s Housing Workshop to develop a community plan for cultural economic development and long-term resiliency in the Santurce area.

The team analyzed neighborhood indicators and market conditions, mapped community assets and identified program opportunities. We also worked with local artists to engage residents in planning and design workshops to identify critical community needs and priorities. Along with this, we conducted site analyses for potential built environment interventions. Using arts and culture as tools for urban and social transformation, we produced a plan that identifies programs, partnerships, resources and action steps to bolster El MAC as the center for cultural, economic and long-term resiliency in Puerto Rico.

HST is continuing to build on this planning work into 2020 in collaboration with El MAC and La Maraña, a local advocacy and planning nonprofit, to engage area artists and activists in advancing community-driven vacant land re-development projects.