Barcelona, the cultural heart of the Catalonia region of Spain, has suffered along with the rest of Spain in recent years. Once, the streets were alive with musicians and bars were filled with live music, but the city has become quiet.
The need for tourism dollars has led police and politicians to take a more conservative stance. Immigration was once encouraged and the spread of culture flowed. Some immigrants, especially those from the third world, feel unwelcome under new Catalonian policies. Not everyone is taking this lying down, however.
Assaid Kumar was born in Havana, Cuba, but has lived in Barcelona for seven years. He has witnessed the cultural decline first hand, but is working to save it. He runs a hip-hop workshop from Varium Dance School with the aim of exposing and teaching Cuban-influenced music to Catalonians.
This builds bridges between people he said, even if the relations between Europe and Cuba are tentative. He also teaches dances so that his students can understand how the music, in its unique forms, came to be and why it exists today.
Our Game Changer Assaid Kumar did not intend to stay in Spain for long but, “You start getting to know the world, and realize the world is really big,” the musician said. Now, he is attempting to introduce Spain to his world, one song at a time and maybe, along the way, help preserve the cultural integrity of a city.