NFTs Are Helping Communities Fight Mega Tourist Developments

BY Rupendra Brahambhatt

April 29, 2022

Akumal is a small village in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula region. Due to its geographical location, most government funding and development projects failed to reach Akumal, which is why most of the region and its population remained underserved for years. However, things began to change in 2018 when local bakery owner Jennifer Smith launched the Akumal Arts Festival. The event aimed to bring prosperity to the village by making it a safe and attractive place for tourists using art.

Every year, artists arrive in Akumal and decorate the town’s walls with beautiful paintings. These efforts grabbed the attention of local authorities, and now small developments related to public lighting, infrastructure, and safety are taking place in the region. Thanks to NFTs, in 2022, the Akumal Arts Festival took a big leap forward. In January, more than 100 artists from different corners of the world gathered in Akumal for the festival under the sponsorship of Third Rail Art

The artists created murals, conducted workshops, and organized various community-interaction programs during the festival. Recently, Third Rail Art dropped animated NFTs of some selected murals from the festival on their street-art NFT platform. The NFT collection is named NFT-4-GOOD, and 85 percent of its earnings will go to the Akumal Cultural Foundation.   

What is the NFT-4-GOOD drop?

Third Rail Art selected 18 murals painted during the festival in January 2022 and created their digital avatars for the NFT-4-GOOD drop on April 8. Each animated artwork is available for sale as a 1/10 NFT on the Polygon blockchain. You can purchase the NFTs directly in your local currency, and once the purchase is confirmed, the NFT is stored in your BEASY wallet.

The NFTs were designed by the artists who created the original murals in association with the Cryptic Gallery. The Akumal Cultural foundation will receive most of the revenue generated from the sales of NFT-4-GOOD and use it to organize future festival editions and fund the different development projects in Akumal. These funds will also enable the Akumal community to face the mega tourist development projects encroaching from nearby regions. 

Moreover, 10 percent of the NFT-4-GOOD secondary market sales will go to the artists who created the original wall paintings in Akumal as royalty commissions.  

How art and NFTs can shape the future of underserved regions like Akumal

Highlighting the situations in Akumal before 2018, founder of the Akumal Arts Festival Jennifer Smith told Cryptomode, “Akumal has always been this abandoned pueblo, we were living in this ‘no man’s land’ where we weren’t getting any services and weren’t being treated as we should be.”

The art festival and the murals have allowed Jennifer and her team to kick off a much-needed change in Akumal.  Their efforts have changed the atmosphere of a place that once seemed almost hopeless. Now with NFTs, this change is happening at a fast rate. Hundreds of international artists are getting involved, money is being raised for development activities, and most importantly, more and more people are becoming aware of the problems faced by the people living in Akumal.

If the art festival and Third Rail Art NFTs manage to transform the Akumal region completely in the coming years, it might trigger a positive change in other locations where no or slow development is taking place.   

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