With a population of 1,300 people, separated from the inflow of money from tourism, Akumal is a small coastal town located on the Yucatan Peninsula that was often suffers from insufficient funding from the government.
Due to the location of Akumal, its place on the list of priorities of local self-government and municipalities has continued to decline over the years.
Art masterpieces illuminate an underfunded community
At a time when social and environmental degradation had created a multi-divided, broken community, Akumalu needed her community to heal.
“Akumal has always been this abandoned pueblo,” said Jennifer Smith, owner of Turtle Bay Bakery and Cafe and founder Akumal Arts Festival.
“We lived in this ‘no man’s land’ where we did not receive any services and we were not treated as we should be. And then I came. Because of its restaurant and its location, I was very sociable and familiar with all the tourists and everyone in need. I’m really tired of telling people that everything is fine in our city, when it wasn’t right. ”
Smith, who has lived in Akumal for more than 20 years, sat down with us for an exclusive interview to discuss how and why she expanded her focus from restaurant management to an initiative initiated by the municipality, working with the city mayor to help up Akumal, which has remained unresolved by the municipality for too long.
Over the past six years, Smith has developed the necessary partnerships between Akumal and its delgadoos, or mayors who change light bulbs at the entrance to Akumal and its bridge due to growing concerns about the safety of its staff and employees.
These ‘delgados’, according to Smith, act as a link between Akumal and his municipality, who have the ability to work with public services to facilitate the replacement of light bulbs. The problem, however, was that it could often take months for these changes to take place.
When it comes to providing public lighting, safety remains a motivating issue when it comes to helping individuals cross from one side of the bridge to the other, as it was dangerous for employees returning home at night without street lighting.
Using NFT to perpetuate ephemeral street art
Finally, drawing attention to a more consistent and efficient cash flow to Akumal, in 2018, it launched the Akumal Arts Festival, an annual initiative that uses art to help raise environmental and sustainability awareness in Akumal Pueblo, bringing together hundreds of artists. from all over the world and Mexico.
The ultimate vision of the Festival, according to its website, is to help make Akumal Pueblo a safer, brighter and more beautiful place for its residents and tourists.
This year’s festival, however, has changed the landscape as Akumal intends to position itself forward. For Smith, it was time to change the conversation for Akumala and focus on how to use art for further talks on addressing the current socio-political issues the Mexican countryside has been facing for decades.
And the answer to that question rested on irreplaceable tokens, or NFTs. From 2022. NFT market exceeded $ 40 billion in 2021, compared to $ 50 billion in conventional art sales in 2020.
“We can be political with art. We can change the conversation with art. I love colors, ”Smith told us.
‘NFTs 4 Good’ helps drive social change
This year’s festival, which ended on January 30, brought over 100 artists from Mexico and around the world to their small town for a three-day mural painting, workshop, performance and local community engagement.
However, it differed from the previous three years, thanks to the event’s returning sponsor, Third Rail Art, a center for lovers of street art and digital art that has dedicated its time to helping bridge the gap between underrepresented artists and underrepresented communities like Akumal.
The growing landscape for NFT, or irreplaceable tokens, has taken our creator economy in a whole new direction, with centuries-old auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s selling millions of dollars worth of digital artwork, giving individuals a chance to be recognized for their creativity as well. earn pretty decent money at auction on limited editions of his works.
For many of these artists, this year’s 2022 Festival was the first time they were given the opportunity to get involved in the NFT space. For some artists, NFT-4-GOOD will be their first NFT. At the end of February, the general public will have the opportunity to buy animated NFT with hidden content of selected murals that can be unlocked painted during the January festival on the newly launched NFT platform Third Rail Art. The platform, powered by Hedera blockchain technology, will make its debut in the next few weeks.
Proceeds from this sale of NFT will be donated to the Akumal Art Festival’s vision of “… beautifying the city for locals and visitors” that will serve as a new revenue stream to continue repairing public services that have not yet been addressed.
Back in 2019, Third Rail Art launched its “Walls 4 Good”Project, where every time an artist paints a mural in New York, the company would make a real-time donation to Akumal’s Children’s Library, which, according to Smith, needed serious hygienic work.
“That money was used to repair the septic system and add additional toilets for the children’s library.” The bathrooms were quite non-functional. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and then they locked us up and locked us up. We turned the library into a food bank, asking Third Rail Art if we could redirect the funds we had and apply them to the food bank. They said yes, and we started receiving other donations, supplying food to about 500 families a month from the food bank. ”
At the end of the day, our world begins to come together to lead discussions about how art and technology can truly impact our communities and daily lives. Unfortunately, with any new industry come many projects that hope to succeed, taking advantage of hype, popularity and overall ignorance.
The difference between those projects like Third Rail Art and Akumal Art Festival that specifically incorporate blockchain and NFT into their communities and those projects that want to sell out right away based on powerful social media campaigns and media coverage is the real usefulness of what it brings to their communities.
What Mexico is witnessing is how blockchain technology and digital art, especially NFT, can help address the lack of attention to underfunded communities like Akumal who have unfortunately had to suffer for many years, despite the influx of tourists and the influx of money coming to the rich. areas immediately across the bridge.
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