In the 1960s, two countries separated by the Atlantic assumed new political alignments, taking the field of arts and culture as a crucial axis of their national projects. On one side, recently independent Senegal sought its modernity under the sign of Négritude as fostered by président poète Leopold Sedar Senghor, and aimed to become a cultural exponent on the African continent. On the other, Cuba founded a revolutionary state where the emergence of an orthodoxy centered on the aesthetics of socialist realism was felt as a threat by a group of artists and intellectuals.
Despite their political differences, the founder impulse of their cultural agendas allowed Cuba and Senegal the establishment of a number of new programs and institutions dedicated to the arts including schools, festivals and museums(1). These institutions focused not only on the development of a local audience, but also shared a strong internationalist agenda that aimed to be progressively independent from Western tutelage.