Thursday, March 3, 2011

NALAC Leadership Institute- an alumni's experience and plea for YOU to apply

2007 Nalaqueros por vida

I'd like to urge everyone to become aware of and apply for the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture’s (NALAC) upcoming Leadership Institute, taking place this July in San Antonio, Tejas. The deadline to apply is April 15.

For 20+ years, NALAC has been dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of the Latino arts field. Based in San Anto, NALAC’s core work are grants for artists, regional training workshops, a national conference (last held 2010 in sanjo), outreach/communications, and their annual Leadership Institute.

For seven wonderful years I was part of the Teatro Visión team out in my hometown of San José, California. As one of the most chingon teatros in the country, Teatro Visión has shown a commitment to helping the next generation of leaders grow and hone their craft, whether it be on the stage, behind the desk, or out in the community. Through them, I was able to be part of the 2007 Leadership Institute, joining the now four Teatro Visión alumni of the week-long training.

Aside from gaining a better understanding of administrative basics like grant writing, budgeting, and strategic planning, the most important thing I took away was viewing my work in a broader context. How crucial it was for me to make connections with artists and individuals beyond my sphere and across the country, both for collaborations, sharing of resources, and advocacy. With ever decreasing resources for artists, even less for artists of color, banding together to support our work is the only way to survive and grow stronger as a community.

In a safe, comfortable space we shared our work, ideas, gripes, successes, and goals, and developed lasting relationships which I know have led to exhibitions, performances, collaborations, positive energy, and couches to crash on across the country. I also appreciated that the workshops benefited both artists and arts administrators; it went a long way in making me feel comfortable amongst the arts community without having any artistic talent. 

Some of the presenters included legends and respected individuals of the arts field, like the eloquent Dr. Maribel Alvarez (whom I developed an academic crush on), Dr. Tomas Ybarra Frausto, and Jesse Borrego. And you can’t help but fall in love with the city of San Anto and their motley crew of artistas, musicos, lovers, fighters, and dramaticos (not mutually exclusive descriptions), who seem to gravitate towards the participants and are wonderful hosts to the city they are so proud of.

As our veterano artists pass on the torch of leadership to the new generation, it is our responsibility to carry on their legacy, while strengthening the foundation of the Latino arts community for those to come. In the 11 years and nearly 200 alumni of the institute, only four Chicagoans have ever taken it. Obviously there are many ways to grow your network and your leadership skills and many of you are already leaps and bounds ahead, but joining the NALAC family is an opportunity not to pass up. As for funding to pay for travel and housing costs (NALAC does pay for ½ of travel, housing and provides breakfast and lunches), an idea would be a fundraiser, or local professional development grants, which I will research on as well… Details and apply here, the deadline is April 15. 

Still not motivated? Here is a great video, and testimonials...

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