Durán, a city of an approximate 500,000 inhabitants, is known as the “Railway Town of Ecuador” thanks to its history as the first railroad hub of the country. As the main meeting point between the highlands and the coast of Ecuador, Durán has retained its heritage through the localised exchange of cultural practices and knowledge, which has impacted several of its current forms of folk art, especially urban art. Deeply rooted in this historical legacy, the city considers culture and creativity as mediums for collective memory, urban well-being, and social cohesion.
Since 2007, the Festival Memories of the Railroad has been held annually in honour of the former railway workers of the ancient Eloy Alfaro Railroad. The event has given rise to an ongoing two-year project undertaken by the municipality called History on Frontages. This scheme gives free rein to the local artists and allows them to paint one hundred murals on house frontages illustrating the history of the city. With strong participation from the youth, the city sees urban art as a tool for civic awareness and demonstrates this by the implementation of a second initiative entitled Youth for Human Rights involving more than 150 young artists.
Through a variety of artistic forms, Durán hosts many cultural events to establish links between modern creative fields and historical customs and folk art. With the aim of sustaining the city’s cultural heritage and nurturing its rich history, Cultural Nights is a flagship project supported by the municipality which showcases works by local artists. The Durán Convention Centre Luis Sánchez Borja also plays a prominent part in fostering the city’s cultural life, turning this once industrial city into a lively place for creativity to thrive.
As a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art, Durán envisages:
- increasing the number of cultural events to foster the diversity and quality of the cultural offerings and the capacity to participate in cultural creation;
- nurturing the city’s identity, history and heritage through the implementation of the projects Memories of the Railway and History of Frontages, aimed at providing creative spaces to local artists;
- encouraging youth and people from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to participate in the city’s cultural life and to nurture social inclusion and civic awareness; and
- enhancing cooperation at the local and the international levels by exchanging best practices with other Creative Cities of Crafts and Folk Art.