At the start of the pandemic, historian Cristina Solís began working at El Sindicato in February; a month later it closed. She used the time to create programs for adults and youths, and even made El Sindicato classes available to people from their homes.
Now El Sindicato is open again, and is offering new classes in herbalism, art, and acrobatics (new activities that are brought to the homes of those who request it, arranged by self-organized groups. The Sindicato continues to offer yoga and son jarocho classes, and children can even learn theater virtually from classes given in Xalapa. In-person workshops are conducted for small groups, and are available only to adults and young people.
Solís indicated that the time the Sindicato was closed served as an opportunity for reinvention. The institution received a grant from the Secretary of Culture just in time for its 25th anniversary. The grants—from 150,000 to 300,000 pesos—went to independent cultural centers for innovative projects. As a result of the funding, Solís was able to create the new classes and healthful changes to the building, such as semi-open, and ventilated spaces, that will soon be in the facility. Funding will be ministered between November and March 2021.
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A bit of history
César Arias, a member of the group that acquired the building in 1994, said that the site had been the Fábrica La Aurora’s recreational space for workers and their families, under “the model of French unionism.” The building, which had been the site for dances during festivals, was in ruins. They rebuilt and adapted it for San Miguel residents who did not have access to cultural spaces to enjoy culture classes at affordable fees. Arias describes El Sindicato “like a taxi: open to the public and events, as long as they are free of political and religious propaganda.”