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In a poll conducted in our Vallarta Lifestyles Newsletter last week, we asked our readers to chime in, in a scale from 1 to 10, on how much they would like to see Puerto Vallarta continue evolving as an artistic destination. Based on the answers received, we are pleased to discover that many of you agree with us on the fact that Puerto Vallarta could accomplish this goal. And will!

Indeed, for decades, Puerto Vallarta—and the rest of Banderas Bay—has successfully enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the thousands of sun-worshipping tourists that favor our destination year after year. At the same time, Puerto Vallarta’s full-time residents, some of which come from larger cities in Mexico and elsewhere, relocate expecting to experience some of their former cities’ perks here, as far as art and culture are concerned. Last but not least, as Puerto Vallarta evolves into a mid-size city, it is increasingly attracting a different type of visitor: the traveler.

We could write volumes on the distinction between tourists and travelers, the expectations they have of the places they visit, and the different ways in which popular destinations are shifting their paradigms in order to appeal to them, together or separately. Instead, we are going to invite you to google the words “tourist traveler” together, or the phrase “difference between tourist traveler” so you can draw your own conclusions. In our opinion, both are good for Puerto Vallarta, but they definitely come here with slightly different goals and expectations. Suffice it to say that travelers will be more inclined to explore our destination’s cultural options than tourists—nothing wrong with that.

Before we can address the notion of Puerto Vallarta becoming a more artistic destination, however, one would have to take stock of the offerings presently available to the general public, and provide accessible connections between them and said public. The good thing is, there are a number of organizations and individuals trying to make a difference through a broad variety of projects and efforts designed to develop and enhance Puerto Vallarta’s artistic storefront. The very least we can do—“we” being those of us that feel strongly about nurturing this side of Puerto Vallarta—is make time to step into their universes and find a niche in which we might be able to contribute as well.

To that effect, we offer you, in a two-part article, a list of artistic movers and shakers in Puerto Vallarta. The list is far from complete. We are certain that we will, despite our best effort, omit the names of specific people or organizations, indadvertedly. It is simply a starting point, a work in progress, and an invitation to you, the reader, to help us fill in the gaps whenever possible. In no particular order:

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Orquesta Escuela de Puerto Vallarta

What it is:

Founded in 2011, Puerto Vallarta’s Youth Orchestra and Music School (OEPV) seeks to develop musical and collaborative skills among our city’s children and young adults through after-school music programs. The orchestra performs several times a year in different venues in the city, from Teatro Vallarta to popular neighborhoods throughout Banderas Bay.

How to connect:

Find the OEPV online through their Facebook page. The orchestra’s school is located in Pitillal, where students receive their education in specially adapted classrooms. On occasions, the small stage at the school is used to present performances open to the general public.

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Filma13

What it is:

Founded as an umbrella organization for all things related to film and video production, Filma13 develops film screenings, film festivals, along with specialized courses and workshops, all designed to stimulate and develop interest in filmmaking locally. Workshops include a variety of topics, such as screenplay writing, production, direction and photography. Most notably, Filma13 is known for their ongoing free film screening series taking place in Marina Vallarta and Isla Río Cuale at La Cuiza.

How to connect:

The easiest way to connect with Filma13 is by attending their free film screenings, advertised on their Facebook page. They are frequently followed by lively debates. In addition, Filma13 is in the process of putting together a short film competition, to take place sometime during the Fall. Filma13 is also interested in connecting with local businesses that may be interested in sponsoring the free film screenings financially, in exchange for publicity. Film and equipment donations are also welcome. For more information, please email filma13proyecciones@hotmail.com.

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Cartelera Escénica

What it is:

The brainchild of dancer/choreographer Melissa Castillo, Cartelera Escénica (literally, performance billboard) was developed to create quality performance opportunities for local and visiting artists, with an emphasis on alternative, experimental projects. To make this happen, Castillo has forged a successful relationship with the CECATUR Auditorium, a 300+ seat theater located two blocks away from Puerto Vallarta’s Guadalupe Church, that, prior to Cartelera Escénica, went largely underutilized.

Cartelera Escénica schedules performance pretty much every Friday evening, throughout the year, in which you can expect to see a broad variety of acts, from classical and contemporary dance, to alternative theater, to classical and rock music performances, and so forth. And while some of them may only be of interest to Spanish-speaking audiences, most have universal appeal.

How to connect:

The best way to connect with Cartelera Escénica is by attending their performances and spreading the word about them. In addition, organizers are constantly looking for volunteers working during performances, from box office to backstage. Cartelera Escenica is an independent, autonomous enterprise. As such, they gratefully welcome donations and sponsorships from the general public, along with in kind items, such as food, lodging or transportation of visiting artists. You can find Cartelera Escénica online at their Facebook page.

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Los Mangos Public Library

What it is:

Founded in 1993 by a group of private citizens concerned about Puerto Vallarta’s cultural wellbeing, Los Mangos Public Library has become an epicenter of cultural and artistic activity in the city. Aside from maintaining an updating an inventory of books selected to increase the knowledge and cultural development of the community, Los Mangos Public Library offers a broad variety of courses, workshops, performances, exhibitions and other activities for children and adults, all designed to reflect the needs of our destination.

How to connect:

Los Mangos’ bilingual website www.bibliotecalosmangos.com, features comprehensive information on the library, its many programs, and ways in which you can become involved with this very important project.

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Peter Gray Art Museum

What it is:

Founded in 2002, the Peter Gray Museum was established at the Centro Universitario de la Costa, the Jalisco State University local campus, as a place where students and the rest of the community would be able to have access to, and enjoy a vast collection of art works donated by its founders, Peter and Buri Gray. One of the museum’s most successful programs consists of ongoing art encounters for elementary school students in which they are guided by Puerto Vallarta-based visual artists through a series of activities designed to develop their visual and artistic skills.

How to connect:

The Peter Gray Museum features special exhibits and other activities throughout the year, welcoming the population at large to visit the museum anytime. Their website, www.museodeartepetergray.mx, includes links to their Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

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Grupo Folclórico Vallarta Azteca

What it is:

Vallarta Azteca is the folk dance troupe headquartered at the Puerto Vallarta CECYTEJ (Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado de Jalisco), a network of science- and tecnology-oriented public junior high schools located throughout the state of Jalisco. Founded by the students themselves, the ensemble has become influential for the large number of events they organize on an ongoing basis. These include over a thousand performances in almost a decade, 11 national tours and four international journeys through  the rest of the continent and several European countries. Vallarta Azteca created the Puerto Vallarta-based National Folkloric Dance Festival, an increasingly influential event that brings together some of the most important folkloric dance troupes of the country for a delightful cluster of performances that take place in several venues in town (the seventh annual edition of the festival took place April 25 - 28).

How to connect:

Look for performances at Teatro Vallarta and other venues by visiting their website, www.vallarta-azteca.com, or their Facebook page.

In Part 2 of this article, we will present you with the remainder of organizations we've researched for this article. If you know of any organization or individual that should be added to this resource, please do not hesitate to contact us via email! Please include the name of the organization/person, and the reason why you think they "move and shake" in Puerto Vallarta.