Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Art matters in the Latino community



I'm not an artist...that's pretty obvious. But I can appreciate what the arts and culture world does for people and communities. Whether on a local or national scale, it's been proven that all forms of art can enrich and change a persons life. It's important to also grasp how important it is in the Latino community.

I've met some incredible Latino artists in the last 9 years in Philadelphia. Those including Tony Rocco, Julia Lopez, Michelle Ortiz, Luz Salas to name a few. I was also fortunate enough to serve on the host committee for the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures conference when it was held in Philadelphia in 2012. An amazing opportunity to meet people in the industry and even catch some awesome performances throughout the city.



At the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (which is a museum and a higher education institution), 109 new students enrolled (in 2012) from 20 states and 8 countries. Of those students, 7.2% were Latino. It may not sound like a high number at first, but it's still interesting to compare it to other backgrounds: African-American 3.6 %; Asian-American 8.1%; Multi-Racial 6.4%; Unknown 13.6 %.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance published the Cultural Engagement Index report which tracks trends in consumer cultural engagement over time in the Greater Philadelphia region. One very important finding was that engagement levels for African Americans and Hispanics increased more and continue to be consistently higher than those for Whites. Hispanics also represented the most engaged population with significantly higher rates of both personal practice and audience-based activity. Makes sense right?

I can spew statistic at you but I won't. Across the nation the struggle to get the National Museum of the American Latino approved has been intense. The bill has been sitting at the Senate for months now. This museum would educate, inspire and encourage respect and understanding of the richness and diversity of the American Latino experience within the U.S. and its territories by highlighting the contributions made by Latino leaders, pioneers and communities to the American way of life.

So as you can tell I'm very passionate about it. Again I'm not an artist nor will ever be one, but I can take time to appreciate all aspects of mi cultura.

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