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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Hamilton creator announces arts fund for Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda said he hopes the fund will grow to $15 million in upcoming years

Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda gives a press conference at the Art Museum of Puerto Rico in San Juan. AP Photo/Carlos Giusti
Hamilton playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda gives a press conference at the Art Museum of Puerto Rico in San Juan. AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

Lin-Manuel Miranda jumped up to a podium shortly after landing in Puerto Rico on Sunday to announce he has helped create a multimillion-dollar fund to boost the arts in the US territory as it struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.

The Hamilton playwright said he hopes the fund will grow to $15 million in upcoming years. He added that he will donate all funds from the Broadway hit when it is performed January in Puerto Rico.

“The goal wasn’t just artistic satisfaction, but how can we leave Puerto Rico a little better than we found it,” Mr Miranda said.

Hurricane Maria caused damage estimated at more than $100 billion when it hit in September. Cultural and artistic groups across Puerto Rico have been greatly affected, losing government and non-profit support amid an 11-year-old recession.

The first five recipients of the fund include a dance school and a theatre company.

“This will allow us to start dreaming again, to come up with new ideas, to visit more cities. This will allow us to breathe,” Julio Morales, artistic co-director of the local theatre company, Y No Habia Luz, told The Associated Press.

The seven-member company will receive $180,000. It had struggled to find funds and was forced to cancel all events for several months after the hurricane.

The non-profit Flamboyan Foundation will manage the fund, which will award $1 million each to the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. An award of $900,000 will go to an art education program and a dance school.

Among those visiting Puerto Rico for the announcement was Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller.

“Arts will be at the centre of the rebuilding effort,” he said, noting that he is excited about the show’s upcoming run in Puerto Rico. “The point it to lift everybody up for those three weeks.”

Hundreds of people in Puerto Rico recently auditioned for the historical musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, and Mr Miranda said he would like to bring the newest cast members on tour in the US mainland.

Mr Miranda said he has to prepare for Hamilton in Puerto Rico, adding with a laugh: “I still have to memorise my lines.”