In a groundbreaking move to elevate Latino theater companies nationwide, the National Latinx Theater Initiative is set to disburse a staggering $9 million in grants to 52 deserving theaters. Spearheaded by the Los Angeles-based Latino Theater Company, this initiative aims to provide vital support to Latino theaters, including those in Puerto Rico.
A New Era for Latino Theater
For years, Latino theater companies have grappled with underfunding and limited resources. The National Latinx Theater Initiative seeks to change this narrative by offering substantial grants to boost their efforts. Among the recipients is Teatro Breve, an independent theater company in Puerto Rico led by executive producer Naíma Rodríguez. Teatro Breve’s mission is to take its original plays and programming beyond Puerto Rico, connecting with the broader Latino and Hispanic diaspora across the United States.
Rodríguez emphasizes the importance of this initiative, stating, "It’s important to get in touch with the people who left the island for different reasons, and who have that desire and need to connect." This grant will enable Teatro Breve to achieve its goal of creating a cultural exchange with Latino communities in the U.S.
Millions in Grants: A Game-Changer
The heart of this initiative lies in the significant financial support it provides. Teatro Breve, for instance, will receive a generous $75,000 grant annually over two years. This funding not only helps cover rent costs but also facilitates the travel of actors and production crews, making it possible to share their work with audiences across the nation.
But Teatro Breve is just one of many benefiting from this initiative. On Monday, the Latino Theater Company unveiled grants ranging from $25,000 to $60,000, distributed over a minimum of two years, to 52 theaters in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Santa Fe, Denver, Providence, and St. Paul. Remarkably, this initiative also reaches six theater spaces in Puerto Rico.
Acknowledging Excellence in Latino Theater
Rodríguez takes pride in Teatro Breve’s recognition as one of the most solid independent theater companies in Puerto Rico. The grant will undoubtedly sustain their operations and expand their reach.
This initiative, made possible by a three-year, $5-million award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Latino Theater Company, is set to transform the landscape of Latino theater in the U.S. Other contributors include national and local foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Joyce Foundation, the California Community Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
Inspired by a Model for Change
The National Latinx Theater Initiative takes inspiration from the success of the Black Seed, a groundbreaking program providing financial support to Black theaters nationwide. Spearheaded by the Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn, the Black Seed initiative received a $5-million grant from the Mellon Foundation. The aim was to address the persistent issue of underfunding and under-capitalization of Black theaters, a goal shared by the Latinx theater community.
Olga Garay-English, a director with the National Latinx Theater Initiative, notes, "As with the Black Seed, this is the first time major donors are systemically addressing the perennial under-funding and under-capitalization of Latinx theater companies."
Supporting the Passionate Theater Community
A survey conducted by the initiative revealed the challenging reality many Latino theaters face. Artistic directors earn an average salary of nearly $13,000 annually, while executive directors make slightly over $37,000 a year. Many individuals involved in these theaters hold multiple jobs, driven by their passion and dedication to serving the community.
To address these challenges, the initiative will provide professional development opportunities and host annual grantee convenings and consultations with the Nonprofit Finance Fund.
Inclusivity and Representation
The initiative aims to embrace the diversity of the Latino community, seeking theaters that serve Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Venezuelans, and other Latino groups across the U.S. It’s a deliberate effort to break away from the notion that Latino-rich communities are the sole custodians of this artistic experience.
José Luis Valenzuela, founder of L.A.’s Latino Theater Company, emphasizes the importance of investing in Latino theaters, stating, "We are telling our own story from our own point of view." The initiative supports theater companies that prioritize Latino representation on their boards and staff while producing plays and programming that resonate with the Latino community.
The National Latinx Theater Initiative is not just about grants; it’s about empowering and enriching the Latino theater landscape across the United States. As this initiative gains momentum, it holds the promise of a brighter, more inclusive future for Latino theater.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the remarkable transformation of Latino theater in the U.S. as the National Latinx Theater Initiative continues to give out millions in grants, fostering creativity, representation, and storytelling in the vibrant tapestry of American theater.
For more information and updates, visit National Latinx Theater Initiative.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice.
Further Reading on Latino Theater and Grants
“What is the National Latinx Theater Initiative?”
The National Latinx Theater Initiative (NLTI), a unique program under the umbrella of the Los Angeles-based Latino Theater Company (LTCo), stands as a dedicated advocate. Its mission encompasses the support and promotion of its artistic ensemble, staff, and the broader Latinx theater community. But what, exactly, is the NLTI?
How does the federal government distribute grant funds to state and local governments?
Grant allocation from the federal government to state and local entities hinges on two primary methods. Firstly, grants are distributed using established legal formulas, a practice employed for block grants and categorical formula grants. Secondly, project grants are awarded through a competitive selection process.
What is the grant funding process?
The grant funding process is a structured journey comprising distinct phases. It commences with the creation of funding opportunities and progresses through application submission, award decision-making, and the subsequent successful implementation of the grant. These phases encompass specific actions that contribute to the grant’s lifecycle.
How do I get funding from the UN?
To secure funding from the United Nations (UN), you should utilize the Online Project Proposal System. This system streamlines the process with a concise and straightforward proposal form. At this stage, there’s no need to draft a comprehensive project document. Importantly, note that project proposals submitted through methods like email, regular mail, fax, diplomatic channels, UN pouch, hand delivery, or courier services will not be taken into consideration.
“What is the purpose of the National Latinx Theater Initiative?”
The National Latinx Theater Initiative serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it provides professional development opportunities for theater entities. Secondly, it organizes annual gatherings and consultations with grant recipients, in partnership with the Nonprofit Finance Fund. In addition, the initiative is committed to supporting Latino theaters that both consist of and serve diverse communities, including Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Venezuelans, and other Latinos in the diaspora.