They are talented young people, full of life and eager to excel. Their goal is to make the Dominican Republic’s cultural and creative industry internationally recognized.
They are not only interested in earning money, but also in developing their communities through what they do on a daily basis, which goes beyond a simple job they do to survive. They are united by the orange economy.
To be creative, it is not enough to work eight hours a day because the idea can flow at any time, even seconds before going to bed.
“If we invest in arts and culture, everyone will do better.”
Micky Ogando, co-founder of La Vaina Nostra
These young people have a very clear idea, and that is that Dominicans can export more than fruits or products from the free trade zones. Their shared dream is that from here they can offer creative services to the world.
That is the motivation that in the middle of the pandemic, a group of creatives got together and founded “La Vaina Nostra”, a movement that aims to bring Dominican talent closer to the international creative economy.
Listín Diario talked to the co-founders of the project and members so that the faces of the orange economy could present the benefits of the creative and cultural industry for the future and the integral development of the new generations.
Micky Ogando, who is president and founder of Bakery, one of the most prominent creative agencies in Austin, Texas, with offices in New York and Tokyo, is one of the co-founders of La Vaina Nostra. He explains the raison d’être of this project: “We want to help young people who are the ones who, when we are gone, will do the same as us, facing obstacles that do not exist in many countries in Europe (…) It is to change what it is to be someone talented and how we define it”.
For Micky, Dominicans are colorful people with many stories to tell, an advantage that should be taken advantage of. The creation of Vaina Nostra was motivated by the collaboration between creatives that together they can shine in the world putting the name of the country on high because for them, the Dominican Republic is more than baseball and beautiful beaches.
Micky, who has clients from well-known global brands such as Audi, Kellogg’s and Nike, believes that Dominicans, through their skills, can stay in the country living, but earning in dollars, which in turn generates foreign exchange for the local economy.
In the future, he hopes that people will see creative careers as a great opportunity on the same level as medicine or law.
Famous creative Poteleche
He is well known on social media for his comic strips that reflect Dominican reality, but his creativity is more than that. Rafael de los Santos, known as Poteleche, also develops as an illustrator and creative director and is a partner in the agency Modafoca.
Many of Poteleche’s comic strips have gone viral, because Dominicans feel very identified with them. He states that creative Dominicans are at the same level as professionals from other countries.
“This is the ‘momentum’, just as there are people crazy about K-Pop, without understanding anything, so there are people from Romania and other countries dancing dembow in TikTok and you see that the artists from here are rising even if many people like it or not. This island has always had its momentum. The guys here are doing a lot of things,” says Poteleche.
This illustrator tells the anecdote that a few months ago he was on a video call with a group of Puerto Ricans where they were talking about cinema. There, the Puerto Ricans used Dominican cinema as a reference, from which they believe they should take the good practices that local directors are currently applying.
Ralph Joseph is a Dominican producer and cultural manager who lives in the United States, but although he is physically far from the country, with technology he has approached young people who live here and want to be part of this industry.
“Sometimes we Dominicans see what’s outside as the best and no one knows what we are capable of. Within La Vaina Nostra we are trying to dialogue with people who are successful inside and outside the island so that they can expose their experience and people can organize themselves and that due to lack of knowledge we do not elevate our talent,” argues Joseph.
The audiovisual producer, who is also part of the cultural and creative movement La Vaina Nostra, is confident in the local talent, but mentions two challenges: that everyone works in the same way and that the work of the creatives is promoted more.
Joseph appreciates that the government is currently supporting the orange economy, however, he believes that public actors cannot be left alone, inviting audiovisual professionals to also contribute their bit.
“In Colombia it worked like that, everyone was on the same page: government, private sector, creatives… We are at the same level as them, but we are not organized so La Vaina Nostra comes to create a standardized directory,” explains Joseph.
There are many people who, attracted by Evaristo Angurria’s street murals, visit local destinations to take his photos and upload them to their social networks.
Defining Angurria is easy: “From Los Alcarrizos to the world”. This phrase fits him like a glove, as this Dominican illustrator and art lover is already known internationally, even muralists in New York take him as an example.
Angurria has taken his art so far that he has been hired to paint murals in the streets of Los Angeles, California and Miami, Florida in the United States.
For Angurria, returning to his neighborhood, where he was born and raised, and bringing his work and his art, is an indescribable thrill.
The murals have changed the face of several Dominican streets, demonstrating that the cultural and creative industry is a factor in economic and social development.
Angurria participated in the initial animation of the American musical film “In the heights”, representing the great Dominican talent in the international arts.
Among many of Angurria’s murals are those of women in “rolos”, motivated by the fact that his mother has a beauty salon and since he was a child he has seen this as a tribute to Dominican beauty.
Street art bears the name of this young man who has participated in major festivals around the world and has become one of the best urban muralists.
Software is an art
Believe it or not, yes, software development has been considered a fundamental part of the cultural and creative industries.
In case there are any doubts, when software engineer César Armando Pérez was asked if his career is an art, since it has nothing to do with painting or music, he answered: “The fact that you write a code from scratch, that it looks good, clean, easy to read, is the same as seeing a painting by a famous painter because it exalts you, it fills you with emotions”.
But beyond this, this career is part of the orange economy because the knowledge services are exported to other countries. This is the case of Cesar Armando, who programs from the Dominican Republic for a company based in Canada.
Cesar Armando believes that art involves a lot of creativity, the same as for software engineers, since every day they have to have ingenuity to create technological solutions out of nothing, which are efficient and scalable.
For him, young Dominican developers of applications and codes have gone from being users and consumers of technologies to being the creators of them.
“As a country we have the duty to change the idea that the only thing we export are products. We also export knowledge, art, culture, what we are,” he reveals.