Cuso International is supporting a youth cultural, social and economic partnership of the municipality of Stratford in Ontario, the Stratford Theatre Festival, and the town of Suchitoto in El Salvador.
Around 50 years ago, Stratford was an economically depressed rural municipality in Ontario. Community leader Tom Patterson gathered together a sum of $225 to initiate what would become the Stratford Theatre Festival. The annual budget of the Festival is now over $50 million, it sustains directly and indirectly more than 3,000 jobs, and injects more than $145 million into the local economy.
Suchitoto, a small municipality in El Salvador greatly damaged by 30 years of civil war, is also trying to improve its economic situation. Suchitoto wants to use the same strategy that Stratford used 50 years ago: leveraging economic development through arts and culture. Suchitoto wants to tap into the potential of its two major assets: youth and the richness of its culture.
Suchitoto and Stratford have developed an Arts and Theatre skills training program, supported by Cuso International. The Es Arte school provides education and employment opportunities to youth.