It is in creative networks that I got my professional grounding and became a fully dimensioned human being. The most impactful of these were co-designed and co-led by women of color. My enduring relationships and roles in the arts, culture, and the humanities are consistently forged in dialogue and collaboration with other workers who share this experience. The arts networks I most cherish have been feminist/queer and intersectional. In them we carve space to engage with artists and audiences around plural visions for our future, experiences of oppression and resistance, the duties of allyship, and multi-prong approaches to making durable change.
Among the creative networks that feed my practice right now, I wish to lift the labor of the oft-mentioned Mosaic Network & Fund in The New York Community Trust. Mosaic is undergoing a radical re-design to become an autonomous entity capable of advancing the funding equity and sectoral development goals of historically under-resourced communities in New York City. We are pursuing this outcome by breaking down barriers between funders and grantees, and by tasking the group —as a community of practice— to co-think viable systemic solutions.
The LXNY | Latinx Arts Consortium of New York is another peer network that is giving me life. We came together at the beginning of the pandemic as a group of leaders from eight Latinx-serving organizations looking to raise emergency financial support. We modeled our initial ask on the success of a similar alliance of primarily white organizations but got a different response. We changed tack into building strength in numbers and LXNY is now thirty-five groups strong and counting. Our collective impact across multiple disciplines and legacies is mighty. If the values we espouse and the social good we generate decade after decade requires additional proof, we have it.
A third example is Canales Abiertos | Open Channels, an emergent international community that champions popular theater in the Caribbean and its diaspora. One of our pillars is Cuban artist Fátima Patterson, Premio Nacional de Teatro winner and founder of Estudio Teatral Macubá in Santiago, now celebrating its 30th year. Their annual Taller de Teatro Popular del Festival del Caribe is also the network’s intended point of convergence. Conceived just prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19 and operating online since, Canales Abiertos is gearing for its first in-person member encuentro in Cuba this July.
Vital and ever evolving relationships such as these are made possible through a mix of audacity, practical knowledge, resourcefulness, nimble stewardship, and visionary philanthropic support. That’s the makeup of our chosen and extended family who makes it happen. I am indebted to everyone who shows up, everyone who listens and teaches, everyone who gives, everyone who steps up to shape an idea into a force for good.
With spring in full bloom and a rousing sequence of live performances lined up at our Bronx and Manhattan theaters, I extend a heartfelt GRACIAS to peers, colleagues, and partners on every front and to the artists who don’t let up!
Shout-outs to Pregones/PRTT’s acting and music ensemble for realizing the first full run of Torched! — the musical play about the Bronx fires opening May 19th; to the indefatigable Magdalena Gómez —writer, educator, activist, and Poet Laureate of Springfield, Massachusetts— who brings the NYC book launch of her new memoir, Mi’ja, to Pregones in The Bronx on May 25th; to The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and playwright Alejandra Ramos Riera for spearheading with us a new round of Abrazo: The Embrace retooled to address post-pandemic community wellness and mental health; to The Latinx Project at NYU for matching our company with Public Humanities Fellows Erik Alonso and Ramón Resendiz who will also collaborate in Abrazo: The Embrace; to WQXR’s Project Airlift for a second year of on-air promo spots connecting our performing artists and audiences to its listener community; to the USA-UK cohort of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator for providing the means and dialogue to maximize livestreaming uses at our two theaters; to WNET’s All Arts for commissioning and airing, as part of The First Twenty series, our short documentary Queer Latine Voices at Teatro Pregones, a look at 10 years of our LGBTQIA+ Asunción Playwrights Project; to Culture Pass for allowing us to welcome first-time visitors who are also cardholders at NY public libraries; to NPN/National Performance Network for supporting a new multi-week artist residency by Mexican Afro-Amerindian musical ensemble Jarana Beat; to Roundabout Theatre Company’s The Refocus Project for our forthcoming partnership showcasing Latinx plays; and to Con Edison’s Arts Al Fresco series and We Stay / Nos Quedamos for collaborating in a new run of audience favorite Stage Garden Rumbacoming to South Bronx community gardens soon!
Arnaldo J. López, Ph.D.
Pictured: Pregones/PRTT’s TORCHED!—on stage in The Bronx from May 19th to June 12th. Photo by Michael Palma Mir.