Few venue openings have caused the stir that this avant-garde arts-centre-cum-club has, with profiles in international papers including The New York Times and The Guardian. Housed in an old peanut oil factory in the far reaches of Vedado at Calle 26 esq. 11, and decked out with sleek lines, minimal shades and multiple rooms, Fábrica de Arte Cubano (7838 2260, www.fac.cu) follows the tried and tested route of counter-culture colonization of industrial spaces that has transformed Shoreditch, Berlin and New York’s Meatpacking District. Yet despite the cosmopolitan air, from the contemporary art displayed in the gallery space upstairs to bands playing in the rooms downstairs, FAC – as it’s usually shortened to – is quintessentially Cuban.
Opened by X Alfonso, a Cuban musician and artist, what’s particularly surprising is that FAC is classified as a community project rather than being either a private enterprise or a state-run facility. As such, it enjoys a cultural autonomy evident in the sometimes politically challenging artwork, eclectic clientele and mix of performance artists. A night here might involve sipping cocktails on the moonlit patio, watching a local theatre company, listening to classical music – or the latest Cuban hip-hop artists – or letting loose at a weekend club night. Whichever side of FAC you see, you can’t miss the fact that you’re watching Havana’s arts and cultural scene being forged.