Bogotá gets new National Arts Center Teatro Colón

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The chandelier inside the Centro Nacional de Artes. PH: Richard Emblin

At the heart of Bogotá’s historic district La Candeleria, where Calle 11 meets Carrera 6, is the latest addition to a cityscape punctuated by the spires of the Primary Cathedral, neo-gothic cupolas of La Candelaria church, and undulating tapestry of tiled roofs that blanket the base of Monserrate mountain.

After construction that lasted two-years (pandemic included), and involved thousands of workers, the Ministry of Culture recently inaugurated the country’s largest performing arts complex – National Arts Center Teatro Cólon, and which, thanks to an underground passageway, is connected to the iconic Republican theatre.

The Delia Zapata auditorium/PH: Richard Emblin

The National Arts Center will receive some 50,000 spectators each year, and benefit more than 1,500 artists given its modular design as a traditional concert venue, as well as performing arts complex with brand new dance studios, rehearsal rooms, and soundproof “Black Box” built 30 meters in the ground for alternative projects.  Covering six floors connected by a myriad of stairwells and passageways, visitors can also enjoy a spectacular view of the Centro Histórico from an open-air terrace, or beneath a monumental chandelier that graced Teatro Colón for more than a half century.

View from the terrace at Centro Nacional de Artes. PH: Richard Emblin

“The National Arts Center Teatro Colón is, without doubt, the largest investment in cultural infrastructure that the Ministry of Culture has made in its 25 years of existence,” affirmed Minister of Culture Angélica Mayolo, “and compares in terms of capacity to three other important stages in Latin America: San Martín Theater complex in Buenos Aires, Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center in Santiago de Chile, and City of Arts cultural complex in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.”

Inside the Centro Nacional de Artes. PH: Richard Emblin

The centerpiece of the complex is the 512-seat auditorium Delia Zapata for large-scale performances decked with a motorized orchestra pit and state-of-the-art audiovisual controls booth. The auditorium is a tribute to the legendary Colombian ballerina, choreographer and folklorist. “Delia Zapata dedicated her life to Colombia through folk dance, inspiring children and new generations through dance,” highlighted Minister Mayolo. The Fanny Mikey Room, named after the famous Colombo-Argentine actress, seats 220 and has retractable panels to meet the requirements of creators.

Dance studios and artists’ studios at Centro Nacional de Artes. PH: Richard Emblin

A wood panel salon with access to the terrace was conceived as a rehearsal space for symphony orchestras and chamber groups, and can be converted into a recording studio. “This is a space for creation, to train emerging artists, as well a world-class venue to showcase the very best and talented of Colombia,” said Mayolo. The National Arts Center opens its doors to the public in mid-July.

Rehearsal salon at Centro Nacional de Artes. PH: Richard Emblin