LOS ANGELES: Latino Theater Company has been awarded a three-year, $5 million award from the Mellon Foundation to spearhead the National Latinx Theater Initiative, a new regranting program intented to boost the national profile of Latinx theatre companies across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, to disperse funds needed to pursue greater financial stability, and to nurture artistic voices in a post-pandemic landscape. In addition to the grant from Mellon, the initiative has received funding support from the Ford Foundation ($2 million over two years), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($750,000 over three years), the Joyce Foundation ($600,000 over three years), the California Community Foundation ($500,000 over two years), and an anonymous donor ($150,000 over two years).
Latino Theater Company artistic director José Luis Valenzuela and internationally recognized arts administrator Olga Garay-English will serve as directors of the initiative during the initial 3-year period of a 10-year effort. A national steering committee, created in 2021 with the help of a $150,000 planning grant from Mellon, provided guidance on the structure. Composed of diverse Latinx theatre professionals from across the country and Puerto Rico, the 11-member committee included, in addition to Valenzuela and Garay-English, Pedro Adorno of Puerto Rico’s Agua, Sol y Sereno theatre company; Jacqueline Flores of Latinx Theatre Commons in Boston; Tony García of Su Teatro in Denver; Miranda González of Urban Theater Company in Chicago; Abel Lopez of Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C.; David Lozano of Cara Mía Theatre in Houston; Rosalba Rolón of Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York City; Mario Ernesto Sánchez of Teatro Avante and the International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami; and José Torres Tama, a theatre artist from New Orleans.
“This new regranting initiative was inspired by The Black Seed,” explains Olga Garay-English, referring to a groundbreaking national strategic plan to create impact and thrivability for Black theatre institutions. “The funders’ collaborative, which includes both national and local foundations, will allow us to make a minimum of 40 to 60 grants throughout the country and Puerto Rico from 2023 to 2025. Meanwhile, we are working to procure additional monies and have set a three-year fundraising goal of $15 million. At the $15 million level, the initiative will be able to award significant grants to 60 or more Latinx theatres. If all the commitments we have currently come through, we will have about $10 million in 2023 for regranting, other programming efforts, and administration of the initiative. As with The Black Seed, this is the first time major donors are systemically addressing the perennial under-funding and under-capitalization of Latinx theatre companies. Most of the money raised is being regranted through competitive general operating support grants.”
The National Latinx Theater Initiative will provide general operating support to national Latinx anchor producing theatres with budgets over $250,000 that have been programming for 15 years or more with grants ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 a year for a minimum of two years; and to local Latinx anchor producing theatres with budgets under $250,000 that have been programming for at least 5 years with grants ranging from $25,000 to $60,000 annually for a minimum of two years.
In addition, the initiative will offer a robust professional development component that will include annual grantee convenings, meetings of the Latinx theatre field more broadly, consultations with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, and other opportunities for growth. The current nine-member national steering committee will continue to help guide the effort.
A total of 52 Latinx local and national anchor producing theatres were chosen using a competitive peer review panel process. A total of six theatres from Chicago received funding support; Los Angeles had five grantees, while Greater New York City had 10 theatres in the final tally. Other places with multiple grantees include Greater California (six), Greater Miami (six), Puerto Rico (six), and Texas (four). One theatre from each of the following locations throughout the United States received funding support: Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.
The 52 theatre companies are listed below:
About Productions, Pasadena, Calif.
Aguijón Theater Company, Chicago
Antiheroes Project, Inc., Miami
Arca Images, Miami
Artefactus Cultural Project, Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.
Asociación ACirc Corp, San Juan, Puerto Rico
A Todo Dar, Cedar Park, Texas
Borderlands Theater, Tucson, Arizona
Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, Santa Ana, Calif.
Cara Mía Theatre, Dallas
CARPA San Diego, San Diego, Calif.
Casa 0101, Los Angeles
Cazateatro Bilingual Theater Group, Memphis, Tenn.
Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA)
Combat Hippies/Teo Castellano, Miami
Company of Angels, Inc., Los Angeles
Culture Clash, Los Angeles
El Ingenio Teatro, Miami
El Teatro Campesino, San Juan de Bautista, Calif.
GALA Inc., Washington, D.C.
Group.BR Limited, New York City
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, Texas
International Arts Relations, Inc. (INTAR), New York City
LatinUS Theater Experience Company, Inc., Cleveland
Latinx Playwrights Circle, Middletown, N.Y.
Miracle Center, Chicago
Miracle Theatre Group (Milagro), Portland, Ore.
Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, Bronx, N.Y.
Programa de Artes Escénicas, Teatros Francisco Arriví y Victoria Espinosa, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico
SINERGIA Theatre Group-Grupo de Teatro SINERGIA, Los Angeles
Spanish Theatre Repertory Company, Ltd. (Repertorio Español), New York City
Su Teatro, Denver
Tantai Teatro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Teatro Alebrijes, San Jose, Calif.
Teatro Avante, Inc., Miami
Teatro Breve, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Teatro Circulo, New York City
Teatro de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan
Teatro del Pueblo, St. Paul, Minn.
Teatro ECAS, Providence, R.I.
Teatro Nagual, Sacramento, Calif.
Teatro Paraguas, Santa Fe, N.M.
Teatro Público, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Teatro Sea, New York City
Teatro Visión, San José, Calif.
Teatro Vista, Chicago
Thalia Theater, Sunnyside, N.Y.
The Sol Project, New York City
Urban Theater Chicago DBA Urban Theater Company
Water People Theater, Chicago
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!