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New NALAC Pod Grants Awarded in Five Regions

New NALAC Pod Grants Awarded in Five Regions

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) announces the five awardees of the inaugural NALAC Pod grants - a new engagement prototype of the NALAC Fund for the Arts program to mobilize broadly and organize deeply. Deployment of the NALAC Pods will take place in geographically and culturally diverse communities with various Latinx population densities.

The following projects were vetted and selected to receive $2,500 NALAC award: Cultural Worker Workshop (IN), Dance in the Desert 2019 (AZ), MantecaHTX: Latinx Art Registry/Directory (TX), AfroRazones Presents: El Puente ErreD (DR) and Poch@ House: Transnational Art (CDMX).

Each NALAC Pod employs a distinct strategy to meet the needs of their community. For example, in Gary, Indiana, NALAC alumni will host the Cultural Worker Workshopfocused on professional development to cultivate a pipeline of black and brown stakeholders working in arts and culture sectors. Coming off the heels of a 2018 NALAC report that investigates the funding climate for Latinx arts organizations in Houston, the MantecaHTX artist directory is an artist-led effort that will amplify the visibility of Latinx artists working in the city.

"The launch of NALAC Pods reflects our commitment to evolve and develop alongside our community. Throughout the years, we have observed growing networks of NALAC alumni, grantees and members self-organizing around activities that foster community building, refine leadership skills, polish aesthetics, sharpen critical thinking, amplify exposure, encourage advocacy, and promote messaging in support of Latinx arts, culture and equity," said Adriana Gallego, Chief Operating Officer of NALAC. "This complementary funding hybrid engages NALAC's fellowship in a different and more significant way, from being recipients of programs to being the driving force behind policy change and advocacy efforts."

The advent of many of these movement building efforts are in response to inequities affecting Latinx arts and culture workers and their families. Otros Dreamers in Acción (ODA) are NALAC members based in Mexico City where they build networks and opportunities for the mutual support and empowerment of deported youth in Mexico. The organizers - many of whom grew up in the United States and were forced to return to Mexico - have created a community space called Poch@ House where deportees in Mexico can gather, find services and create. Through transnational arts and culture organizing, the Poch@ House: Transnational Art project will work with deported artists in Mexico and Mexican-American artists in the United States to advocate for rights and protections for those living on both sides of the U. S.-Mexico border.

Right alongside the border, Dance in the Desert's origin story began many years back as a dreamwork of NALAC alumni Yvonne Montoya to uplift and examine a codification of Latinx Southwest aesthetics. Today, as a NALAC Pod, Dance in the Desert 2019 returns as a week-long choreography retreat in Tucson, that will provide a critical space to nurture a network of Latinx choreographers and dancers in Arizona, while centering local expertise. Another project that is similarly taking place a short distance from an international border is the transnational Caribbean solidarity project AfroRazones' El Puente ErreD. This project will explore the relationship between digital technology and inequality as the starting point of a week-long workshop in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for independent artists seeking artistic autonomy and financial security in the global music industry.

In 2016, two prototypes for testing the Pod strategy were launched in Arizona and New York, led by past NALAC alumni and grantees. The pilots were led by Casandra Hernandez (CALA Alliance/ASU Art Museum) and Gabriela Muñoz in Arizona; and Arnaldo J. López (Pregones/PRTT) and Lisandra María Ramos (Hemispheric Institute) in New York.

The Pod Grants are part of the NALAC Fund for the Arts, the nonprofit's national grant-making program for artists and nonprofit arts organizations. NALAC shared news earlier this year regarding 43 grants awarded to artists and organizations across the United States and 10 additional grants in Puerto Rico.

The 13th edition of the NALAC Fund for the Arts is possible thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Surdna Foundation, and Nathan Cummings Foundation.

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