Benjamin Carrion – A Legacy of Culture Promotion

Benjamin Carrion (1897-1979) was a tireless supporter of Ecuadorian culture, which he went to great lengths to promote. He was the founder and first President of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (The House of the Ecuadorian Culture) situated in Quito, which to this day is a center focused on the development and maintenance of authentic national culture, welcoming visitors to view the exhibitions, film screenings, dance performances and many other exciting events held there.

Carrion was born in Loja in the Cuxibamba valley in southern Ecuador. He trained as a lawyer and was active in the public and political arena where he occupied various positions including Minister of Education and legislator, as well as serving as a diplomat in several European and American countries. During his lengthy working career, Benjamin Carrion at one time served as a professor at Ecuador’s Central University in Quito, as well as a journalist. Together with fellow Ecuadorian Alfredo Pareja, Benjamin Carrion founded the El Sol newspaper. Later on he published the magazine Letras del Ecuador, which is considered to many to be very influential in the literary world. He was also instrumental in publishing some noteworthy Ecuadorian authors.

It was in 1944 that Benjamin Carrion founded the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, and overcoming many obstacles along the way, the first and main building of the House was inaugurated in May 1947. The building, which has been added to and improved, has become a landmark in the bustling city of Quito and upholds its founder’s aspirations of promoting the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana’s museums, library and press. In addition to the many permanent exhibitions of ethnography, sculpture and painting, the center promotes shows and exhibitions highlighting local and foreign artists, which are invaluable in promoting Ecuadorian culture to the world, as well as inviting artists from other parts of the world to introduce their culture and art to Ecuadorian society.

As a writer, Carrion was considered by some to be controversial, and his political leanings brought him into the circles of first the socialist and later communist elements of Ecuadorian society. However, although not everyone may have agreed with him, no-one can dispute that Benjamin Carrion was one of Ecuador’s foremost promoters of culture, which is still benefiting many today.