Artists, Phillantropists, and Community Leaders Celebrate Latino Theater Merger, Call On Peers To Help Raise Remaining $1.4M

New York – November 5, 2013 – A lively mix of arts and culture champions convened on November 4, to celebrate and rally new support for the merger of Pregones Theater, the award-winning Bronx ensemble, and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, a long-running Off-Broadway producer. The event was co-hosted by Time Warner Inc. and the Ford Foundation, two anchor funders of a first phase of merger capitalization, now funded at 60%. In a brief but rousing call to action, a stellar lineup of speakers urged guests to follow suit in helping Pregones/PRTT raise the remaining $1.4M of its $3.5M goal. The union is the first of its kind in the history of New York City, and promises to boost the profile of diverse theatermakers, performing artists, and audiences alike.

“Individually, Pregones and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater have safeguarded the remarkable story telling tradition in the Puerto Rican and Latino community,” says Lisa Garcia Quiroz, Time Warner’s Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. “Now by coming together, they have the power to ensure that the cultural richness and vibrancy of New York’s Latino community is experienced across boroughs, and the voices of Latino artists, both new and established, will always be heard. Time Warner proudly supports this merger and we are thrilled that our support will be instrumental to its success.”

Lisa & Darren

Left: Lisa García Quiroz, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Time Warner Inc.
Right: Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.

“This is a completely unprecedented model of audience outreach and theatrical production— a vision of New York as one community, connected through the arts,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We have an extensive history with both of these stellar institutions, going back four decades, and are overjoyed to be a part of this novel iteration as they unite.”

“The joined future of our two companies maps new routes for artists and audiences at a time when the New York theatre can truly embrace them,” says Miriam Colón, founder and longtime Artistic Director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, aka PRTT. “The national and international performing arts community is also ready for this, and that’s why we’re devoting the first years of this marriage to programming that’s expansive and outward facing,” adds Rosalba Rolón, founder of Pregones Theater and Artistic Director of the newly merged entity. “Ours is an arts merger, legacy, and leadership succession project all rolled up in one,” added Ms. Rolón.

Michael & Miriam

Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kenndy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, congratulating Miriam Colón and Rosalba Rolón during the event.

Two Great Stages, One Great Theater!
The merger of Pregones Theater and Puerto Rican Traveling Theater ups the ante for Latino theater with programming in not one, but two stages: The bright red, three-story building at 304 West 47th Street, smack in the heart of Manhattan’s Broadway district, and the growing facility at 575 Walton Avenue, in the Gateway neighbor-hood where Manhattan meets The Bronx. “We’re asking artists and audiences to get on the Uptown- Downtown Theater Express!” says Ms. Rolón.

Local, National, International
Pregones/PRTT will continue to showcase the strengths of ensemble and associate artists, near and far, and to curate an extraordinary two-stage season, with works of variable scale and multiple entries for all audiences. Highlights of the coming seasons include new works like The Desire of The Astronaut, based on interviews with Latino engineers and space mission veterans at NASA; The Marchers Trilogy, consisting of new stagings of original repertory productions The Wedding March, adapted from stories winner Judith Ortiz Cofer, ¡Ay, Jesús!, adapted from works by Jesús Colón, foundational figure of the Puerto Rican-Latino community in New York City, and Peccatoribus, a multilingual collection of wartime songs and stories from Brecht/Weil to nueva canción; Betsy! The Appalachian-Puerto Rican Musical, a collaboration with Roadside Theater of Kentucky; and select new plays by emerging and established playwrights, some of them associated with the PRTT’s long-running Professional Playwrights Unit.

The Room

Pregones/PRTT also announces the forthcoming 21 Islands, an ambitious 3-year multidisciplinary and multi-lingual project featuring artists and humanists from twenty-one different islands worldwide, starting with Puerto Rico and Hawaii. “Extraordinary performances are at the forefront of upcoming seasons, as is a commitment to boost our touring connections and advance our training initiatives,” adds Rolón, “so that everything we do is true to the growing interconnectedness among international theatermakers and audiences. Our two stages will also be world stages.”

The programs of Pregones Theater and Puerto Rican Traveling Theater are supported, in part, by public funding provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. The Department has also funded several capital improvement projects at both theaters, and provided technical assistance and financial support throughout the merger process.

“For decades Pregones Theater and Puerto Rican Traveling Theater have each supported the careers of professional and emerging Latino artists and presented an extraordinary range of Spanish and bi-lingual performing arts programs for the public,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin. “This merger captures the strengths of both organizations and provides the opportunity for expanded offerings that serve even more artists and audiences.”

Pregones Ensemble

From left: Fred Valle, Miriam Colón, Jorge B. Merced, and Desmar Guevara, with Pregones’s Ensemble Artists Yaraní del Valle, Shadia Fairuz, Jesús Martínez, Sol Crespo, Omar Pérez, and Antonio Vargas.

Team Work and An Open Future
Joining Ms. Rolón and Ms. Colón in programming and operations of the newly merged Pregones/PRTT, are Associate Artistic Directors Alvan Colón Lespier and Jorge B. Merced, and Musical Director Desmar Guevara. Integration of management teams includes Development, Finance/Accounting, and Communications, led by Arnaldo J. López, Ph.D. A plan to add new positions and build substantial operating/ capital reserves is also central to merger. The merger will optimize existing programs, boost earned and contributed income streams, maximize facilities use, and insure legacy for generations to come. This merger bolsters the job retention and job creation capacity of both companies, and broadcasts Latino formulas for teamwork, partnerships, and placemaking. A new website is forthcoming; a list of current funders is viewable at www.pregones.org.

To contribute or obtain additional information please contact Arnaldo J. López, Ph.D., Development Officer, phone: 718-585-1202, email: ajlopez@pregones.org,
post: 571-575 Walton Avenue, The Bronx, NY 10451.