Rent paid by a magical imagination

There was an item in Solo di Pueblo yesterday, on the front page, announcing the closure of Aruba’s Academy of Fine Art, on Wilhelminastraat, across Brenchie’s Park.

That street corner where El Gaucho was the sole tenant for decades, now also boasts a number of successful eateries, in the location of the defunct hardware empire. It’s a hot spot now.

Apparently the MinEdu discontinued the building’s rent contract, Awg 70,000 a month according to the media, and sent students packing in search of a new school building.

I liked that art school, which prepares aspiring artists determined to further their education in the Netherlands via an accredited program that counts towards the coveted Bachelor degree in Art.

But Awg 70.000, is truly an exaggerated burden on the public, for a school graduating 20 students per semester. How did GOA end up paying the bill for adult education? I understand a subsidy, but getting stuck with the entire bill?  

I know the building of the academy well, a lovely example of what Art Deco architecture looked like in Aruba in the 20s and 30s – including the Oranjestad water tower, before the introduction of the more austere and functional Bauhaus movement that inspired the style of the abandoned gas station in the vicinity and many other structures in the area.

The building of the art academy was beautifully restored by Romar Trading, and the park across, complements the streetscape, with lovely greens and free WIFI.

I called the landlord for verification: False he told me. We reduced the price to Awg 34 per meter 3 years ago – which cuts the quoted amount in half. They have not paid rent this year, and have not paid utilities for 24 month, but we don’t make the student suffer, we pay it, shame on them.

According to the landlord, the art academy was set up by the former MinPres, who approached Romar Trading for the commercial use of the building for noble academic purposes. “We did not solicit that piece of business,” the Landlord said,” we just restored a gem of a building, and now pay us what you owe, and we’d like to have the keys back.”

BTW, the academy is not the most expensive real estate rented by GOA, the National Archive in Sabana Blanco, the former Wimco, deserved that title, at Awg 55.000 rent a month.

Which brings me back to the points raised by Armand Hessels, the star of yesterday’s column.

The way the system is set up, Romar Trading, a successful local liquor business and a political supporter/contributor was rewarded by the former MinPres with a lucrative contract. I totally believe it was an unsolicited payback, albeit expected; according to how GOA does business it was a logical move.

And it proved to be unsustainable. How do you set up an unsustainable business? Carelessly.

Every one is at fault, GOA for promoting the setup of an unsustainable entity and the art school for having no financial plan, just dreams. How can you operate, if you cannot afford utilities? On the wings of a magical imagination.    

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June 13, 2018
Rona Coster