The magic of the arts: an evaluation of the impact of "CreArte" community project

Mendive. Journal on Education, october-november 2021; 19(4):1054-1066

Translated from the original in Spanish


The magic of the arts: an evaluation of the impact of "CreArte" community project


La magia de las artes: evaluación del impacto del proyecto comunitario "CreArte"


A magia das artes: avaliação do impacto do projeto comunitário "CreArte"


Juan Silvio Cabrera Albert1
Lianet Irene Rodriguez Pérez2
Miwon Choe3

1 University of Havana. Cuba.
2 Community Initiative Exchange and Reference Center - Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (CIERIC- UNEAC) de Pinar del Río. Cuba.
3 Western Kentucky University (WKU). USA.


Received: February, 09th, 2021.
Approved: July 20th, 2021.



Since ancient times, the arts have become not only a social expression of our contemporary world, but also an educational vehicle for learning and empowering. This has been proven by many of the artistic community projects developed in Cuba including "CreArte": TO GROW WITH THE ARTS, an outstanding initiative founded in Pinar del Rio University that overcame its academic field impacting the whole community. The present article was aimed to evaluate the sociocultural and educational impact of this experience in children who benefited directly from the Project, their families, coordinators, art instructors and cultural promoters. Based on scientific methods and, particularly, on a holistic and integrated methodology, authors evaluate in a significant sample of subjects, the high impact of "CreArte" in the spiritual welfare of Pinar del Rio community, also proving the indisputable value of the arts as a tool for human development.

Keywords: the arts; community project; sociocultural and educational impact.


Las artes se han convertido desde hace mucho, no solo en expresión social del mundo contemporáneo, sino también en vehículo de educación, aprendizaje y empoderamiento. Así al menos lo demuestra el desarrollo alcanzado en Cuba por los proyectos comunitarios de carácter artístico, entre los que destaca la experiencia de "CreArte: Crecer con las Artes", una iniciativa surgida en la Universidad de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca", que por su alcance trascendió el espacio académico, llegando a impactar a la comunidad extramuros. El presente artículo tiene como objetivo evaluar el impacto sociocultural y educativo que ha tenido esta experiencia en los niños y niñas, beneficiarios directos del proyecto, sus familias, gestores, instructores y promotores culturales. Sobre la base de métodos científicos y con una metodología de carácter holístico e integrador, los autores valoran, en una muestra significativa de sujetos, el alto impacto del proyecto en el bienestar espiritual de la comunidad pinareña, constatando así el indiscutible valor de las artes como herramienta de desarrollo humano.

Palabras clave: artes; proyecto comunitario; impacto sociocultural y educativo.


As artes há muito se tornaram, não apenas uma expressão social do mundo contemporâneo, mas também um veículo de educação, aprendizagem e empoderamento. Pelo menos o demonstra o desenvolvimento alcançado em Cuba por projetos comunitários de cunho artístico, entre os quais se destaca a experiência de "CreArte: Crescer com as Artes", iniciativa que surgiu na Universidade de Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca ", que pela sua abrangência transcendeu o espaço acadêmico, impactando a comunidade fora dos muros. O presente artigo tem como objetivo avaliar o impacto sociocultural e educacional que essa experiência teve nas crianças, beneficiários diretos do projeto, seus familiares, gestores, instrutores e promotores culturais. Com base em métodos científicos e com uma metodologia holística e integrativa, os autores valorizam, em uma amostra significativa de sujeitos, o alto impacto do projeto no bem-estar espiritual da comunidade de Pinar del Río, confirmando assim o valor indiscutível das artes. como ferramenta de desenvolvimento humano.

Palavras-chave: artes; Projeto comunitário; impacto sociocultural e educacional.



The sociocultural community development initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of people is, for countries like Cuba, a practice of transforming nature and unquestionable social reach. Among the wide range of institutions and entities that have the greatest impact on socio-cultural development at the local level, the so-called "community projects" stand out.

Valued as non-profit socio-cultural initiatives, of a participatory and inclusive nature, community projects bring together social actors from various backgrounds (professional, artistic, generational and social), with the intention of responding to specific problems of the locality, based on means and own resources, positions based on the collective social benefit.

From the methodological point of view, community projects in Cuba are based on a participatory conception that integrates all possible diversity of social actors at the local level, in order to generate change processes aimed at improving the quality of life of the community (Juliá HE et al. , 2006: 7). From this vision, precisely, "CreArte: Crecer con las Artes" arose and has been developed, a community sociocultural project, attached to the "Pedro Junco" House of Culture of Pinar del Río, with a legal framework approved by agreement of the Council of the Municipal Administration, which, due to its values and contributions, is also recognized as an artistic project by the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) in Pinar del Río and as a children's creation group by the National Center of Cultural Houses. 

Initially located in the Popular Councils "Cuba Libre" and "Hermanos Barcón" "CreArte" transcends today due to its impact on the 18 communities of the city of Pinar del Río. Under the permanent support of important cultural entities such as the Community Initiative Exchange and Reference Center (CIERIC) at UNEAC, the "Pedro Junco" House of Culture and the Provincial Center for Community Culture, the project managed to create and consolidate over the years, Alliances and synergies of work with the most important institutions and sociocultural entities of Pinar del Río: the Provincial Library "Ramón González Coro", the Directorate of Culture, the Provincial Center for Books and Literature, the Center for Education and Promotion for Development Sustainable (CEPRODESO), the "Hermanos Loynaz" Literature Center, the Computer Palace, the Provincial Museum of History, the Center for the Study of Educational Sciences of the University of Pinar del Río "Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca", the Cultural Society "José Martí" and the Municipal Directorate of Education. Likewise, from the beginning, it knew how to harmonize itself with other community and artistic projects such as El Patio de Pelegrín, the Casa de la Décima "Celestino Pacheco", Cámara Chica, FAESDA, Finca "La Cabaña", "With love and hope", "Music y Colors","Cuento Art", "Fine Sand"and" Green Map".   

As a community initiative, "CreArte" intends to contribute to the formation of ethical and aesthetic values through the development of artistic-creative abilities of children. Currently, it has two permanent spaces for artistic appreciation and creation: the drawing workshop "Ilustrando Sueños" and the Engraving Workshop "Pekegrafía", in addition to coordinating every year, with the co-sponsorship of important social actors in the city, the so-called Schools Summer of "CreArte", which include workshops on literature, dance, music, plastic arts, theater, cultural journalism, audiovisual production, photography, ceramics, advanced technological applications, communicative practice of foreign languages, traditional cuisine and crafts.

In its educational conception, "CreArte" is based on a humanistic and Marti vision that assumes the arts as a motivating and inspiring agent of imagination and talent, the development of thought, creativity and human values; It encompasses three basic dimensions: educational, artistic and sociocultural, triangulated through a system of artistic workshops that encourages the participation of children and adolescents in impactful community socio-cultural events: individual and group exhibitions, contests, clubs, galas and artistic festivals; all this in order to have a favorable impact on the children benefiting from the project, their families and the community in general.

To carry out this study, we start from the main theoretical references related to the evaluation of social impact as an object of study, aware that it is, without a doubt, a relatively new concept in the field of social sciences, whose meaning depends on the field in which it is applied: academic, sociocultural, environmental, political, technological, institutional, among others.

For authors like Stufflebeam DL and Shinkfied AJ, evaluation is the process of identifying, obtaining, and providing useful and descriptive information about the value and merit of goals; the planning, the realization and the impact of a determined object, in order to serve as a guide for decision making; solve liability problems and promote understanding of the phenomena involved. Thus, the key aspects of the object that must be valued include its goals, its planning, its realization and its impact (Valdés RY et al., 2018 ).

For Bugallo A. (2016), evaluation constitutes one of the fundamental ways to systematize the theoretical-methodological knowledge emanating from community projects and transform a contingent, fortuitous and intuitive knowledge into a new systematized, critical and self-critical knowledge. For its part, CIERIC assumes evaluation as a "mechanism that is carried out in a systematic and directed manner; aimed at identifying, obtaining and providing, in a reliable way, sufficient and relevant data and information to support a judgment about the merit and value of the different components of a process or of a set of specific activities, carried out with the purpose to produce effects and results, checking the extent and degree to which these achievements have occurred, in such a way that it serves as a basis or guide for decision-making between courses of action or to solve problems or promote knowledge and understanding of the factors associated with the success or failure of their results" (Juliá HE et al., 2006: 89).   

Regarding the term impact, the Dictionary of Spanish use points out that it comes from the voice impactus, from late Latin and means, in its third meaning, "very intense impression or effect left on someone or something by any action or event". In this sense, it is associated with the changes, transformations or positive or negative effects that are generated on the well-being of people or groups, as a result of the intervention to a need that is identified and it is intended to change its condition. García G., for example, appreciates the impacts as permanent and sustainable changes in the medium and long term that are experienced in the organizations, communities and organizations participating in the development process; significant changes that tend to be lasting over time. This author proposes to take into account among the elements to evaluate the impact, the analysis of the variables to be studied, their indicators and the study algorithm (Lara L. et al., 2019). 

Baker JL understands impact evaluation as the analysis that aims to determine more generally whether a program produced the desired effects on individuals, households, and institutions and whether these effects are attributable to the program's intervention. The author states that this type of evaluation also allows us to examine the unforeseen consequences in the beneficiaries are they positive or negative, in which she agrees with other previously cited authors (Pino Y. et al., 2019).

For their part, Añorga JA and Valcárcel N. refer to the impact evaluation as one that is carried out considering the multiple effect of the evaluable object in the most possible comprehensive way, becoming the awareness of the usefulness, damage or uselessness that the evaluable object can generate, partially or totally, in a mediate way, as a result of its application (Bravo T., Añorga JA and Cardoso L., 2019).

In this same sense, Abdala E. recognizes that the impact evaluation contemplates the process oriented to measure the results of the interventions, in quantity, quality and extension according to the pre-established rules; Thus, the measurement of the results, which constitutes the main characteristic of the impact evaluation, makes it possible to compare the degree of accomplishment achieved with the degree of accomplishment desired and, in turn, compares the planning with the result of the execution, covering all the secondary effects to planning and execution: specific and global; wanted -according to objectives or not-; positive, negative or neutral; direct or indirect, hence it is part of the life cycle of the project, distinguishing itself in ex before, intra and post (Lara L. et al., 2019). 

For Cohen E. and Franco R., the objective of impact evaluation is to determine more generally if a program produced the desired effects on people, households and institutions and if these effects are attributable to the intervention of the program itself; Sandoval JM and Muñoz MP, for their part, point out that, in addition to measuring changes in the well-being of individuals, the objectives of this type of evaluation are to provide information and help improve the effectiveness and quality of the program (Valdés Y. et al. , 2018).

In relation to impact evaluation, the UN defined it as the process aimed at systematically and objectively determining the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of activities in relation to the objectives set for carrying them out, which is organizational in nature. in order to identify, obtain and provide useful and descriptive information about the value and merit of the goals, and improve the activities still underway and help in planning, programming and future decision-making (Echevarría B., Fernández C. and Mainegra D., 2017).

Regarding the term social impact assessment, the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) states that, it is a process that aims to identify the future consequences of a current or proposed action. The impact, understood in this way, is the difference between what would happen with the action and what would happen without it, and includes all the aspects associated with a planned intervention, that affect or involve people, either directly or indirectly, in the perceptual (cognitive) or bodily (physical) sense at all levels, for example, at the level of the person as an individual, economic unit (family/home), social group (circle of friends), workplace (a company or government entity), or more generally community / society. These different levels are affected in various ways by an impact or by an action that causes an impact (Rincón C. and Pérez A., 2018).

For this research we assume the definition of Pacheco Y., according to which the evaluation of social impact becomes a process of analysis and assessment of the changes and transformations operated in the course of the development of a sociocultural project, where the effects (positive or negative) caused by it, both those that are considered as expected results, and those that are not planned (Cabrera JS et al., 2018).

For the purposes of this study, the integrative vision of this researcher and other referred authors allows us to appreciate the value of evaluating the social impact of community projects to:

There is no doubt that an adequate evaluation of the social impact of community projects enables the visualization of the changes that occur, the collective learning within a project, the identification of its potentialities and limitations in the proposed actions, as well as the use of previous learning, which can be positive or negative for the introduction of corrections. It can also serve as a theoretical-methodological reference for the evaluation of other similar projects, as well as for future decision-making and planning of the different lines of work, according to the social development of each region.

The evaluation of the social impact acquires special significance for a community project like "CreArte", socially appreciated for its sociocultural and educational impact, and for accumulating, during its eight years of sustained operation, a wide catalog of awards and recognitions at the local, provincial level and national, becoming part of the systematic cultural programming of the Directorate of Culture of Pinar del Río.

Unfortunately, and despite the wide social recognition that "CreArte" enjoys, to date a comprehensive study that covers, in all its dimensions, the evaluation of the impact of this community initiative has not been carried out. All this, precisely, justifies the intention of the authors of this article to evaluate the sociocultural and educational impact of "CreArte" on the beneficiary children, their managers, art instructors and the community in general.



This research was based on the dialectical-materialist method as a general method of knowledge, which integrated theoretical, empirical and statistical methods to achieve valid results and with scientific argumentation.

The application of the dialectical-materialist conception made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the contradictions inherent to the problem to be investigated; In correspondence with this, the concepts, the causal relationship and the characteristics of the process that was investigated for the discovery of the set of inherent links, their development and the changes that they aspire to achieve were determined. Among the theoretical methods, the historical-logical was used to analyze the different conceptual references about impact evaluation, the analysis and synthesis to delve into the dimensions of the main study variable, and the systemic-structural to determine the system of indicators of the impact evaluation process and the relationships between the elements that compose it.

To obtain the information, the following were used as empirical methods:

From the descriptive statistics method, inferential logic was used to establish regularities and trends from the interpretation of the information found.

The evaluation of the sociocultural and educational impact of "CreArte" covered six fundamental stages:

Based on the systematization of the different approaches and theoretical models (Pacheco Y., 2015; Cabrera JS et al. , 2018), for the present study the following dimensions and indicators related to the main variable are assumed:

Table 1- Dimensions and indicators defined for the study of evaluation of the sociocultural and educational impact of the Project "CreArte: Crecer con las Artes"



Impact on the direct beneficiaries of the project.

  • Cognitive development of the personality of workshop girls and boys.
  • Motivational-affective development of the workshop participants.
  • Volitional development of the personality of the workshop participants.
  • Change in lifestyles.

Impact on art managers and instructors.

  • Professional and personal improvement of the workshop managers.
  • Improvement in professional performance.
  • Change in personal and inter-institutional relationships.
  • Development of capacities related to sociocultural management.

Impact on the indirect beneficiaries of the project.

  • Trascendence of the project in the lives of families and the community, their spiritual well-being.
  • Development of the sense of belonging and collective identity to the project.
  • Change in interpersonal relationships at the community level.
  • Social  recognition to the project, its educational and sociocultural value .

The study in question took as a sample a significant group of project beneficiaries, their managers and coordinators in various provinces and officials from different cultural institutions.

To select the study sample, a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 5% were estimated, using the stratified random technique from a population of 72 subjects (48 boys and girls direct beneficiaries of the project six members from the manager group, two art instructors and 16 representatives of the sociocultural institutions articulated with "CreArte"); The value of 55 subjects was obtained (33 participating children, six members of the Manager group, both art instructors and 14 representatives from partner institutions). In addition, 24 community members were part of the sample, including 16 relatives of the workshop participants. The size of the sample was in correspondence with the availability of the subjects to collaborate with the research. 



The information obtained from the application of the different instruments was processed according to the previously defined system of dimensions and indicators. As a result, the most important aspects derived from the evaluation of the sociocultural and educational impact of the project ": Grow with the Arts" are presented in its three basic dimensions.

Impact of "CreArte" on direct beneficiaries

From the surveys, interviews and observations carried out, it was found that the "CreArte" workshops have significantly contributed to the cognitive development of the participating boys and girls, to the acquisition of knowledge associated with the language of the arts, the development of imagination, spontaneity and fantasy in relation to the world around them, as well as creative abilities: understanding and appreciation of the arts, critical observation and reflection, originality, manual skills.

In this sense, the respondents mostly recognized "CreArte" as a space for cognitive and spiritual enrichment through which they manage to develop not only their artistic abilities and talent, but also their artistic taste, their motivation and sense of collective responsibility and identity. From the motivational-affective point of view, they expressed that both "Ilustrando Sueños" and "Pekegrafía", as well as the Summer School workshops, constitute attractive and developing experiences that have contributed to:

Regarding the volitional development of the personality, the workshop participants also pointed out that the project has provoked positive emotions in terms of their attitudes towards their own work and that of others, the sense of belonging to the project, the levels of affectivity and mutual understanding. In a general sense, they appreciate in "CreArte" a space for personal growth, fulfillment and spiritual enrichment.

Impact of "CreArte" on managers, instructors and promoters

In addition to being a positive and fruitful experience for the children of the community, "CreArte" has had an important impact on the vision of the Project managers themselves, as well as the art instructors who teach and coordinate the workshops.

In the interviews carried out with the members of the Management Group, they mostly recognized that "CreArte" has represented a challenge that has required them to perform multifaceted and indistinct roles in terms of: coordinating the workshops; the representation of the initiative in the meetings of Programming of the Directorate of Culture, in forums and scientific events; the organization and promotion of project activities in the community (individual and group exhibitions, artistic galas, etc.).   

For the art instructors of the project, on the other hand, the experience of working with the infants through the workshops was, from the beginning, an educational challenge. This, as they well explained in the interviews carried out, was basically conditioned by the need to organize the contents of each workshop according to the different ages of the participants, their interests and motivations. To achieve this, both instructors recognize the fact that they had to prepare seriously and responsibly for each meeting, both from an artistic and pedagogical point of view. For Néstor Montes de Oca, for example, the search for resources to encourage the children in his workshop "Illustrating Dreams", beyond having become a permanent concern as part of what he called "professional cognitive exercise", It became the inspiration for the representation of the Comebolas clown who every Saturday, together with his puppets, helped him to dramatize stories and poems to provoke the fantasy and imagination of the workshop participants.   

For Odeybis Gato, for his part, his experience in "PekeGrafía" has been significantly peculiar, since the fact that they are basically children of preschool ages (5-7 years), who need the accompaniment of their parents, required him to redesign the contents of the workshops in such a way that they considered the collective participation of adults, which had a great impact on the dynamics of each meeting and on the results.

Another particular fact that shows the high impact that the project has had on the professional lives of both instructors, is related to the Methodological Workshop "Learning from the arts", organized by the "Pedro Junco" House of Culture of Pinar del Río for students. Members of the Brigade of Art Instructors "José Martí". The successful presentation of both instructors in this workshop, as they acknowledge, was the result of the rich practical work carried out in "CreArte" and also, having been able to consistently systematize all the work experience lived in the project. The same refers to their participation in the Regional Forum of Culture, where they presented the presentation "Culture in function of community development: experiences of the Project "CreArte", worthy of the Relevant award of the event.

As an important factor for their good professional performance, both managers and instructors point out the opportunities that the project has offered them in terms of improvement, as a result of the permanent accompaniment of the methodologists of the Provincial Center for Community Culture, the "Pedro Junco" House of Culture, the Provincial Center for Overcoming Culture and continuous interaction with representatives of CIERIC-UNEAC in Pinar del Río. On the other hand, the participating boys and girls, their families and the community attribute their high levels of commitment to the project to the climate of respect and empathy that prevails in each space, among the members of the Management Group, between them and the instructors, the collective nature of the decisions, as well as the work synergies developed with the different social actors of the community. The professionalism and commitment acquired by the instructors and managers of the project were widely recognized in the surveys and interviews, as one of the main factors that have ensured the high level of convocation reached by "CreArte", its results, its sustainability as a creative project artistic and the high degree of satisfaction of the participants.

Impact of "CreArte" on the indirect beneficiaries of the project

The inclusion of "CreArte" in the weekly program of culture in Pinar del Río, the participation of the workshop participants in artistic galas, clubs, personal and group exhibitions and festivals, show the broad social recognition of the project. This is also demonstrated by the fact of being part of the "Arte en Colón" sociocultural revival program, which encompasses a broad artistic movement every weekend in the historic center of the city.  

In the study carried out, the importance of the initiative in the families themselves is also highlighted, who value very positively the quality and relevance of the workshops, their educational and instructive value. This, according to the interviewees and respondents, is reflected in the high level of personal involvement and motivation of parents and adults responsible for the artistic and socio-cultural experiences emanating from "CreArte".

Among the effects generated by "CreArte" are the changes achieved in the quality of social relationships and the behavior of families, mainly those integrated into the project, their mutual approach, their sense of community belonging, the use of free time in good practices of cultural consumption (visual arts, literature, audiovisual production, among others) and their quality of life. According to the study subjects, all this is expressed in the improvement of coexistence relations, solidarity, mutual support, the increase of their participation in community social life, especially in the activities promoted by "CreArte" in the community. . In a general sense, they recognize this as a collective life project that has contributed significantly to good relations between members of the community, their social leadership in terms of local cultural development, education in values, good use of free time and healthy recreation.

On the other hand, for community leaders, including representatives of the Popular Councils, the articulation with "CreArte" has meant not only a concrete way to actively get involved in a collective life project, but also to harmonize and strengthen relationships with families from new roles and positions, to approach them and actively influence their spiritual well-being.

In general, the community shows a very favorable perception of "CreArte" as a community initiative and values the relevance and quality of the artistic workshops and the entire cultural movement that it displays as very positive, its sociocultural and educational utility.



As a community initiative, "CreArte" is based on a sociocultural-educational concept, concretized in practice in a system of artistic workshops, organized according to the interests and needs of the participants, in which the development of knowledge and artistic skills is combined with the formation of human values.

The results derived from the study carried out demonstrate the high educational and sociocultural impact that this project has had for the direct beneficiaries, their managers and the community in general. The relevance of its artistic-pedagogical conception centered on the development of artistic knowledge and skills, and the formation of human values in the participating boys and girls, and what is even more important, their preparation for life is confirmed; all this based on basic learning that enhances the integral development of their personality. The data provided by the study reveal, in particular, the role of the "CreArte" workshops as eminently educational spaces for artistic appreciation and creation, through which knowledge is "built" and capacities and abilities are developed, strengthened and they create values of solidarity, altruism, justice and love, where an open climate of trust and freedom prevails, which stimulates the individual and collective fulfillment of the participants.

It is evidenced in this way, which is precisely through the workshops as a form of practical and creative organization of the learning process, that each instructor of the project can select and correctly organize the contents that best stimulate the imagination, spontaneity and fantasy of the students. workshop leaders, exploration and experimentation in relation to the world around them; organize and graduate the technical-formal aspects to be dealt with, according to the individual possibilities, the age and the creative capacity of the boys and girls, their creative capacity; awaken artistic taste, facilitate aesthetic enjoyment and meet individual and collective needs and interests, channel motivations, productive use of free time, personal growth. 

On the other hand, the impact of "CreArte" on the project managers and art instructors was confirmed, for whom the experience of working with infants and their families has meant an opportunity for personal and professional development, a challenge that constantly demands ability to systematically enhance:

As a result of the study carried out, the high sociocultural and educational impact that the "CreArte" project has had in these years for the Pinar del Río community, the changes and transformations that it has promoted in the participants and beneficiaries of this experience, its incidence in the professional work of managers, as well as its social significance. In particular, the research reveals the role of the arts as a motivating and inspiring agent of the imagination and talent of children, the development of their thinking, their creativity and human values.

As a result of the study carried out, we can conclude that:



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Conflict of interest:

Authors declare not to have any conflicts of interest.


Authors´ Contribution:

The authors have participated in the writing of the work and analysis of the documents..


This work is under a
licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional
Copyright (c) Juan Silvio Cabrera Albert, Lianet Irene Rodriguez Pérez
, Miwon Choe