By ARNALDO J. LÓPEZ
We have always known that the joy of live arts doesn’t exist only within the walls of the theater. And yet, the hard facts of pandemic and physical distancing put our knowledge, feelings and experience to the test. How to balance the conflicting mandates of “Stay home, save lives!” and “The show must go on!”? In fact, we see now that this is a false dichotomy: we can continue to revel in shared experience and shared connection through collaboration, even as we are removed from one another physically.
At Pregones/PRTT, we put spring events on pause just when our March Is Music series was getting started. The openers were glorious! We were lucky to be propelled forward by the total musicality of Chavela Vargas, Glem & Orozco Duo, and Moriah Feiner Trenk. A few days later we were setting up shop in Zoom, mapping new ways to continue serving our artists and audiences, and talking to everyone in our great extended family.
In adapting to this “new normal,” we have drawn strength from collective experience and resolve. We have offered plenty of advice and opinion, and welcomed the same. Most importantly, we have honored all existing artists’ contracts in full, and sought new means to provide guidance, assistance, and support to Pregones/PRTT’s deserving creative workforce. We are grateful to the funders of the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust and the Hispanic Federation’s Nonprofit Emergency Assistance Fund for supporting these efforts.
We also chose to stay loyal to fellow artists in Puerto Rico, for whom we’ve been fundraising since a calamitous earthquake swarm hit the island in January. Donations of all sizes allow our organization to provide emergency micro-grants of $500 to artists in need. This modest aid goes a long way in a situation now markedly worsened by the coronavirus. I had the chance to visit with the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades in February, meeting many of its extraordinary grantees working at the intersection of arts, culture, and humanities. Their creative ecosystem deserves every consideration. We are actively seeking additional donors to this cause.
We help artists because we are artists, but also because artists have proven, time and again, that their vision and labor are essential to our society’s wellbeing. And while we may be unable to greet you the way you’re used to —in person on Walton Avenue and West 47th Street— know that we’re just a screen away with more theater, music, dance, and film.
SUBSCRIBE to our e-news and follow us on social media to enjoy our new Choice Replays! digital series. WATCH AND VOTE in a new edition of our 21 Islands International Short Film Festival, now live through April 30th. KICK IT UP with a dance class in our Raúl Juliá Training Unit and Beyond Workshop Series, co-led by R.Evolución Latina through May 1st. STAY TUNED for special online previews of forthcoming new works including ensemble musical Torched!, about the historic South Bronx fires, directed by Rosalba Rolón with music by Desmar Guevara. All of this and more, online and FREE.
This is what we do—arts and community no matter the odds. And you’re a big part of it. Thank you for that.
If you would like to make a donation in support of this work, we invite you to do so here.
For related inquiries, please email [email protected] or call 718-585-1202.
Arnaldo J. López, Ph.D., Managing Director
Photo of the NY Premiere & Puerto Rico Earthquake Benefit of Paul Flores’ We Have Iré by Michael Palma.