Anchor Arts Organizations in NYC Unite to Form New “Latinx/POC Arts Legacy Consortium”
Eight institutions challenge historical austerity and funding inequity when serving underrepresented communities
NEW YORK, NY, June 15, 2020 – Spurred by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, eight esteemed arts organizations with deep roots in local communities of color have announced the formation of the Latinx/POC Arts Legacy Consortium. Partners seek to pool experiences, resources, and shared history in order to better prepare diverse populations for reopening, as well as to ideate new ways of overcoming historic undercapitalization well past pandemic. The organizations are Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance, Bronx Documentary Center, Caribbean Cultural Center and African Diaspora Institute, El Museo del Barrio, Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, Repertorio Español, and Flushing Town Hall. Together, they share the vital mission of producing, promoting, exhibiting, and supporting the work of living artists and cultural workers of color, providing cultural links to more than 2 million youth, adults, and older adults. As its first collective action, the Consortium is calling for new and additional philanthropic support from funders committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.
“We’re at a point in this pandemic when we need to plan —as a consortium— for what comes past the first round of emergency funding, past the CARES Act,” said Charles Rice-González, Executive Director of Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance. “We need to mind our Latinx/POC arts legacy organizations for what they bring to communities of color now also disproportionately hit by COVID-19, and also make sure these organizations stay strong past the emergency point.” For partners in the new Latinx/POC Arts Legacy Consortium, staying strong has so far meant finding ways to keep salaried staff on payroll, providing alternatives for non-salaried creative workers to get paid, taking to social media and other digital platforms with artistic programming and coronavirus PSA’s, and often tapping into modest reserves and endowments to make it work.
A survey of Consortium members reveals a combined loss of more than $4 million in revenue and support since March 2020. This number will grow exponentially before the end of this year. The Consortium is devising ways to help attenuate impact, including establishment of a pooled knowledge base for access to relief and safer reopening information, and additional multilingual outreach to help communities reengage with confidence. As a peer think tank, the Consortium will also be generating and sharing out knowledge about the seemingly intractable aspects of public/private disinvestment in communities of color.
“New York City is a tapestry of neighborhoods and cultures where individuals and communities grow, where they find meaning, health, and wellbeing,” says Libertad Guerra, Executive Director of The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center. She points to the heavy lifting still ahead for many Latinx/POC-serving organizations, especially as indignation over racial injustice and anti-black violence flares nationwide: “All that we do is essential, but we continue to absorb more than our fair share of cuts and losses. We can’t let structural invisibility and structural inequity render us expendable. We need holistic approaches to equity through a healing framework.”
The Latinx/POC Arts Legacy Consortium is building and testing one such holistic approach. Funders are invited to contribute in recognition of the partner organizations’ long track record in raising the quality of life in diverse and vulnerable neighborhoods, including the South Bronx, Flushing, Harlem/East Harlem, and the Lower East Side. Residents of these and other similar Latinx/POC enclaves, now experiencing months of isolation, physical distancing, and economic anxiety, rely heavily on local artists and arts institutions to remain connected to their cultural heritage, and to find solace and hope for what comes next.
Arnaldo J. López, Managing Director of Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater: “Our work will be fundamental for reopening and recovery. The City needs us. Our organizations meet real needs and bridge real gaps that COVID-19 has only exacerbated for communities of color. And what we lift up is quintessentially New York. The world needs us.”
Consultant and press liaison Charlie Vázquez may be contacted for further inquiries at: [email protected]