Arts Beat
Peru's New Culture Minister Is Susana Baca

The Afro-Peruvian folk singer Susana Baca has been named minister of culture in Peru for the new populist government of President Ollanta Humala, who took office last week.

Ms. Baca, whose CD "Lamento Negro" won a Latin Grammy award in 2002, is the first black Peruvian to be named a cabinet minister in that country since it gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and she provides another example of a recent South American trend to put artists in charge of government cultural policy.

Previously, for example, the pop singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil served as culture minister in Brazil, and the actress-director Paulina Urrutia in Chile. Despite her new duties, Ms. Baca intends to go ahead with a tour of the United States and Europe scheduled to begin this month, according to her publicist, Jesse Cutler. The performances are to include one in New York City on Aug. 21, at the City Winery.

"I have a difficult year ahead of me, with many concerts, but I have always been interested in working for Peru," Ms. Baca, 67, told a Peruvian radio station. "I will work to ensure that culture is not something that is only enjoyed by the people who can afford it, but that it be democratic, and that it reaches everyone and is inclusive."