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By ROSALBA ROLÓN

There is a connection between those who make art and those who witness it. There are countless ways in which we make art happen —as we have learned over the past months—and countless ways to witness it. And in many instances, to participate in it. It is no secret that the output of art around the world has exceeded all expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ever-expanding circle of artmaking has defied the odds again, as it has during pandemics throughout history. We are no exception.

The multiple sectors that make up the arts industry is immense. In the performing arts alone, each link in the long supply chain of production is essential. Behind each production there are dozens, at times hundreds of people involved, depending on the scope of the production. Writers, directors, actors, musicians, composers, designers, stage managers, technicians, board operators, tailors, painters, carpenters, hairdressers, maintenance, ushers, concessions staff, catering, printing shops, box office services, local businesses, hotels for guest artists and on and on…

So yes, we have been hit hard. As have many other industries. Which is why today I celebrate the resilience of our arts sector worldwide.

There is much room for improvement in terms of equitable distribution of resources and access to technology throughout the world. But I am proud of the way in which we changed course, collectively, finding ways to produce our work, to help each other and to explore opportunities and reach previously afforded by a selected few.

Pregones/PRTT has been on a steady course since we closed our two theaters last March, as required by our City officials. It was the right call. We took on the challenge, as many others did. In our case, we had been building our capacity to work virtually in projects involving creative partners in Central/Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Africa and in the United States for more than 10 years. With the generous support of private and public funding, we moved quickly to make the most of our acquired expertise, slowly upgrading equipment and expanding our knowledge.

An unimaginable virtual season was steadily developed, and with it, our ongoing support to the broad artistic family that is Pregones/PRTT.

How does the outcome look like? I invite you to read the following website blog written by our Managing Director, Arnaldo J. López, link: In The Service of Change. In it, you will learn about a broad range of projects, new and sustained partnerships and the roles of collaborators and supporters.

But wait! There’s more! We value and miss our audience dearly. We are aware that not every audience member has access or maybe enjoys watching work online. This is why we are grateful to BronxNet Community Television for the opportunity to showcase our work on a weekly basis, giving thousands of audience members an opportunity to catch Pregones/PRTT via cable, all the way through the end of the Season and beyond.

Here are selected highlights of our upcoming virtual offerings, through our online platforms and on cable TV:

SPOTLIGHT: Creatives at Work – Expertly led by our Associate Artistic Director JORGE B. MERCED, this Series has focused on the work of countless artists, on stage and those behind the scenes. A big thank you to the steady hand of our Production Manager JESSICA MOYA, and Sound Engineer MILTON RUIZ.

MARCH IS MUSIC 15th Anniversary – Featuring 15 events total including must-see concerts and a music-themed film, all curated by Associate Artistic Director ALVAN COLÓN LESPIER. The monthlong celebration kicks off with a Spotlight episode about our Musical Director DESMAR GUEVARA and his work at the helm of key compositions for our repertory over the past 20+ years, and also harbors a highlight episode on Alvan’s curatorial work for March Is Music since its inception.

21 ISLANDS FILM FEST 5th Anniversary – Curated by MELISA RAMOS, the latest installment of this growing international short film fest adds yet another layer of excitement this Spring. With 1,800+ submissions from islands around the globe, I can’t wait to see the outcome of the rigorous committee selection process, now underway!

While all of this is happening, our stage continues to be open to artists, following strict safety protocols. Our Step Up Artists In Residence and ASAP | Artist Space At Pregones space grants initiative continue to provide generously for individual artists and independent projects that need a stage to work and develop their projects.

On a parallel track, development of NEW WORKS for our company’s original repertoire is ongoing. Jorge is leading the development of two new projects: The first, Tito & The Cement Pagoda, will see its first reading before the end of this Season, with plans for a full production in 2022. We will be sharing details in upcoming blogs. The second, Hollywood Memorabilia, is the next chapter in our lasting fascination with the writings of the late Manuel Ramos Otero. I continue to work on Torched! and shared multiple developmental readings and public conversations about the project this year. I am mapping the contours of the story in dialogue with a circle of knowing advisors, proud to join the many voices that have already brought attention to the devastating Bronx fires of the 1970s, and who remain resolute about holding the real perpetrators and industries accountable. I am again working with an ensemble dream team and enthralled with Desmar’s beautiful music.

Braiding my creative, institutional and networking activities keeps me going. The fiercely committed artistic, management and facilities teams at PregonesPRTT produce results for all to enjoy. Working with my colleagues on local, regional and national networks energizes our efforts and heightens our visibility. I treasure my work as a Board Member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and of United States Artists, my work as Co-Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals 2021 national conference, my work as a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee, and many other related functions that nourish my artistic work each day.

From now until then, please remember:

Pregones/PRTT may be temporarily closed for audiences, but remains permanently open for artists. 

And our Season is open online for all to enjoy!

 

Featured image: Screen captures from 2021 broadcast of physically distanced developmental readings of Torched! at Pregones Theater in The Bronx. Clockwise from top left: Rosalba Rolón, Pregones/PRTT Ensemble fronted by José Joaquín García, Omar Pérez, Christin Eve Cato, Caridad De La Luz.

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