Sounds of Cultura: The Cultural Coalition


JOSE CARDENAS: EL RANCHO DEL ARTE HOUSING COMPLEX OPENED IN 2015, NOW AN ADDITIONAL COMPLEX AL RANCHO DEL SOL APRTMENTS OPENED IN NOVEMBER. BOTH SHOW CASE ART AND POETRY THROUGHOUT THE PROPERTIES, AND THERES ALSO AN AFTER SCHOOL ART AND HOMEWORK PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN LIVING THERE. JOINING ME IS CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CULTURAL COALITION AND ZARCO GUERRERO: BOARD PRESIDENT FOR THE CULTURAL COALITION. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US. THERE IS OBVIOUSLY A CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU AND THIS IS AN EXCITING PROJECT THAT YOU BOTH HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN. I WANT TO START- WE’RE GOING TO PUT SOME PICTURES ON THE SCREEN OF THE BUILDINGS AND I WANT TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT WE SAW. I THINK THIS FIRST ONE IS A CONCEPTUAL DRAWING OF WHAT WAS ORIGINALLY PLANNED AND THEN WE’VE GOT SOME STREET SHOTS. AND THEN ONE OF YOU, ZARCO I THINK STANDING IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING. CARMEN, THIS IS A GREAT NEED IN THE COMMUNITY, YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT IT BEFORE. TELL US HOW THIS ALL GOT STARTED.

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: IT GOT STARTED BECAUSE A COMPANY FROM CALIFORNIA, A DEVELOPER CAME AND WAS LOOKING SPECIFICALLY TO WORK WITH AN ARTIST WHO WAS EMBEDDED IN THE COMMUNITY. SO OF COURSE, SOMEBODY MENTIONED ZARKO AND HE CAME TO ME, ZARKO AND HE’S ONE OF THOSE SYNCHROMICITIES THAT HAPPEN THAT ALL OF THE SUDDEN EVERYTHING ALIGNED AND ZARKO’S WORKING WITH THE ARCHITECTS TO INTEGRATE ART IN A DESIGN ON THE BUILDING.

JOSE CARDENAS: INTO A PROGRAM A THAT WAS ADDRESSING ANOTHER REAL NEED WHICH WAS LOW INCOME HOUSING.

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: YES, LOW INCOME HOUSING IS VERY HARD TO FIND IN MESA. THIS IS ONE OF THE VERY FEW PROJECTS THAT OFFER THAT TO THE COMMUNITY.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO THE FIRST PHASE WAS WHAT-2015?

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: 2015 WE INAUGURATED LAUNCH DEL ARTE, IT’S FOUR STORY HIGH, AND SERVES 66 FAMILIES. THE WONDERFUL THING WAS SITTING AT THE TABLE WITH THE ARCHITECTS AND TALKING ABOUT THE NAMES OF THE PLACE AND HOW IT’S GOING TO SERVE THE PEOPLE. AND THEN EL RANCHO IS A BIG NAME-A LOT OF BUSINESS ARE CALLED EL RANCHO- SO WE WANTED TO SIGNIFIFY SOMETHING DIFFERENT, SO WHY DON’T YOU CALL IT RANCHO DEL ARTE BECAUSE THERES ART ALL OVER IT. AND SO ONE THING LEAD TO ANOTHER AND I SAID YOU CANT HAVE A PLACE CALLED EL RANCHO DEL ARTE AND NOT HAVE AN ART CLASS. SO THEY CREATED AN ART CLASS FOR THE PROGRAM. SO WE OFFER AFTER SCHOOL ART PROGRAMS FOR THE KIDS AND ALSO HOMEWORK HELP AND SAINT MARY'S FOOD BANK DONATES FOOD TO THE RESIDENTS CHILDREN. HIGH PORTION OF THEM ARE LOW INCOME, SOME OF THEM ARE REFUGES. WE HAVE FAMILIES FROM AFGHANISTAN AND SOMALIA LIVING IN THE BUILDING. IT IS VERY MULTI-CULTURAL, VERY DIVERSE AND THE WONDERFUL THING IS EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT THE ART BECAUSE IT’S CALLED EL RANCHO DEL ARTE AND ITS ART BY THE KIDS.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND SPEAKING OF THE ART. ZARCO THATS WHERE YOU COME IN. WE HAVE PICTURES THAT WE’RE GOING TO PUT UP ON THE SCREEN ILLUSTRATING A NUMBER OF TEACHERS IN THE BUILDING. THAT FIRST ONE YOU ARE STANDING IN FRONT OF ONE PART OF IT. BUT ALSO THERE IS A STAIRCASE, THERE IS SOME MAGNIFICENT GATES. TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THESE PIECES AND PARTICULARLY THE GATES. THERE IS WORDING THERE. WHAT DOES IT SAY?

ZARCO GUERRERO: THERE IS POETRY THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING. THERE’S THESE POETRY GATES THAT’S A POEM THAT I WROTE CALLED UN MARNISATE. IT TALKS ABOUT ART THAT COMES FROM THE PEOPLE THAT NURTISHES THE PEOPLE THAT IS THERE TO SERVE THE PEOPLE, AND SO THAT’S A BIG PART OF THAT POETRY GATE. THERE IS ALSO POETRY AND INSPIRATIONAL SAYINGS FROM DIFFERENT INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE FROM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD LIKE GANDHI, CESAR CHAVEZ, MARTIN LUTHER KING, MANY POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS. SO YOU’RE VIRTUALLY SURROUNDED BY THE VISUAL ARTS AND POETRY AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND THERE’S A STAIRCASE. I UNDERSTAND EACH STEP HAS POETRY ON IT.

ZARCO GUERRERO: RIGHT. EACH STEP YOU TAKE HAS A DIFFERENT LINE OF A POEM OR SHORT STORY. IT IS QUITE INSPIRATIONAL.

JOSE CARDENAS: NOW ARE THESE CONCENTRATED IN THE FIRST PHASE? OR WHAT DID YOU DO FOR EL RANCHO DE SOL?

ZARCO GUERRERO: WELL, BASICALLY WE DID BOTH BUILDINGS THAT WAY. WE WERE INVOLVED FROM THE VERY BEGINNING TALKING WITH THE ARCHITECTS ON WHAT WE COULD DO IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE BUILDING AND HOW WE COULD HAVE ART INTEGRATED INTO THE CONTRUCTION OF THE BUILDING AND DESIGN OF THE BUILDINGS. AND EVEN THOUGH BOTH BUILDINGS ARE COMPLETE AT THE TIME. THE ARTISTIC CREATION IS –THE ARTISTIC CREATION- THE PROCESS OF ARTISTIC CREATION IS CONTINUOUS.

JOSE CARDENAS: IN WHAT SENSE CONTINOUS?

ZARCO GUERRERO: WELL, THERE IS A MURAL PROJECT THAT WE HAVE BEGUN. THE OUTSIDE GARDEN OF WHICH EACH TENANT HAS A PLOT, A RAISED BED TO GROW THEIR OWN FOOD. SO THE WHOLE OUTSIDE GARDEN IS PAINTED WITH MURALS. WE ARE BEGINNING A MURAL PROJECT INSIDE THE STAIRCASES AS WE. SO, LIKE I SAY, IT IS SOMETHING THAT IS CONTINUOUS AND WE HOPE TO BE CONTRIBUTING THAT FOR ALONG TIME TO COME.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHAT KIND OF RECEPTION HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM THE TENANTS? AS CARMEN INDICATED, IT’S A PRETTY DIVERSE GROUP. SOME OF THIS IS NEW WOULD BE NEW TO THEM IN TERMS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSCRIPTIONS AND SO FORTH. HOW HAS IT GONE OVER WITH THEM?

ZARCO GUERRERO: WELL THE ARTDOES IS BRING THAT ELEMENT OF COLOR, OF VITALITY, IT CREATES A SENSE OF WELLBEING AND A SENSE OF PLACE. SO WE’VE GOT NOTHING BUT POSITIVE FEEDBACK SO FAR FROM THE ARTS WHICH IS A GOOD THING.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO CARMEN, YOU MENTIONED THE EDUCATION PROGRAMS. WE’VE GOT SOME PICTURES OF THE CHILDREN. BOTH IN WHAT I UNDERSTAND THEY HAVE ACTIVITY CENTERS AND THEN THERE IS THAT FOCUS ON ART. HOW MANY KIDS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?



CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: WE USUALLY SERVE ABOUT 35 KIDS EVERY DAY. THEY HAVE THE DIFFERENT AGES FROM 5 YEARS OLD TO 15 YEARS OLD. IT IS HARD TO GET TO TEENAGERS BUT THE KIDS IN BETWEEN COME- THEY COME FOR HOMEWORK HELP, THEY COME TO DO THE ART. AND THEN THEY HAVE DIFFERENT INTERESTS. SOME DAYS WE OFFER DANCING- SO THE KIDS LIKE TO DO IT, YOU KNOW THEIR INTO IT. WE ALSO HAVE A LOCAL PASTOR THAT COMES AND DOES MUSIC CLASSES EVERY THURSDAY FOR THE CHILDREN, SO THE KIDS ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS. SOME OF THEM WANT TO PLAY THE GUITAR, SOME WANT TO PLAY PIANO, SOME WANT TO PLAY MARIACHI BECAUSE WE BROUGHT MARIACHI JOVONE FOR THE OPENING OF EL RANCHO DE SOL AND THE KIDS LOVE TO SEE OTHER KIDS PLAYING MUSIC.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON SINCE 2015?

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: SINCE AUGUST OF 2015.

JOSE CARDENAS: DO YOU HAVE SOME WAY OF MEASURING THE IMPACT OR SOME THINGS YOU CAN POINT TO AS EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THIS HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES?

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: I THINK THE ENGAGMENT CAN BE MEASURED, LIKE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED IN 2015, FOR AWHILE WE ONLY SERVED 3-5 KIDS A DAY AND NOW IT IS LIKE 15-35 KIDS A DAY. WHAT I FEEL IS LIKE AFTER HAVING SERVED IN SO MANY BOARDS AND SO MANY CITY COMMISSIONS FOR THE CITY OF MESA THAT I DID FOR MANY YEARS- THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT WE HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT WHERE THE CHILDREN ARE EXCITED ABOUT THE ART. THEY COME FROM SCHOOL, THEY’VE HAD A PRETTY REGIMENTED DAY IN SCHOOL. THEY GET THERE, AND THEY GET TO RELAX, AND THEY GET TO TALK ABOUT I LIKETO DANCE, I WANT TO DO THEATRE, WE DO SHADOW PUPPETS WITH THE KIDS. RIGHT NOW WE’RE DOING A CHRISTMAS PLAY WITH THE ONE WOMAN WHO WAS AN ASU GRAD STUDENT IN THEATRE SO SHE’S VOLUNTEERING TO DO THEATER PROJECTS WITH THE KIDS. SO THEY ARE DIVING INTO SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT, BUT YET THAT SPEAKS TO THEIR HUMANITY. SO I FEEL THOSE KIDS AND THE PARENTS ARE ALL MORE IN TUNE WITH THE ARTS. THEY WANT TO GO TO MUESUMS, I TOOK THEM-

JOSE CARDENAS: SO IT’S NOT JUST THE KIDS THAT YOU’RE IMPACITNG, YOU’RE IMPACTING THEIR PARENTS?

CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: THE FAMILIES-

JOSE CARDENAS: WELL, IT LOOKS GORGEOUS. CONGRATULATIONS. I KNOW HOUSING- AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS A BIG ISSUE WITH YOU. BOTH OF YOU ARE DEEP INTO THE ARTS AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON HORIZONTE.


CARMEN DE NOVAIS-GUERRERO: THANK YOU.

ZARCO GUERRERO: THANK YOU.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND CONGRATULATIONS. AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US FOR HORIZONTE AND ARIZONA PBS. I AM JOSÉ CÁRDENAS. HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

"HORIZONTE" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

A local nonprofit is providing opportunities for artists and art education by offering artistic opportunities in two Valley apartment complexes.

El Rancho del Arte and El Rancho del Sol showcase art and poetry throughout the complex, both by professional artists and by youth living in the apartments. Cultural Coalition, an organization providing cultural programs for the development of artists in Arizona manages the after-school art and homework program for children living in the residences.

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In this segment:

Carmen de Novais-Guerrero: Executive Director, Cultural Coalition

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