Cultural Center Interviews

Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center – Toledo, OH

Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center is an art organization founded in 1996, providing interest, awareness, and education about Latino art to its community. It is named after Sofia Quintero, the first Latina to be voted into the Toledo Board of Education. Check out below our interview with Taylor Burciaga, Executive Director of the center.

 

Gallery, Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center

1. What is the history of this center? When did it begin and why? How is it involved in the Latinx community?
The Sofia Quintero Art and Culture Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit Latino art organization founded in 1996 by members of the Mexican American community to support the artistic expressions of the local Latino Community. Through events and programs, SQACC provides interest, awareness, and education about Latino art, heritage, and culture. The SQACC Board of Trustees comprises of Latinos and non-Latinos with an interest in preserving Latino Culture and community involvement. For more information, click here.

2. What are the aims or goals of this center?
SQACC aims to nurture and enhance the creative abilities of all people through an emphasis on Latina and Latino art and culture. The center serves as an oasis for the neighborhood residents and local artists.

3. Why is outreach to Latinas/os important?
Latinos/as are one of the fastest growing minorities and are an integral part of the national community and varying industries from education, finance, agriculture, construction, health, etc. From SQACC’s point of view, it is extremely important to make sure that the Latino community receives as many opportunities and education as possible; we focus on arts, cooking, healthy living, etc. We also feel it is extremely important to educate young Latinos on their culture, history and traditions so it is preserved and celebrated. As well as we also want to educate and celebrate the Latino culture with other diverse groups.

4. How can people get involved with this center?
Multiple ways: our programs are open to everyone from all backgrounds. Individuals are welcome to participate as attendees in events and programs (art, cooking, etc.). We also host volunteers and individuals that want to get more involved in certain areas of SQACC. We also have donors that want to financially support us to ensure our mission continues. Lastly we have memberships in which individuals can purchase different levels of membership for different incentives.

5. What are some of the upcoming events with this center?
Currently, we have our Pottery classes going on. We have monthly First Fridays (community events with food, entertainment, etc.) Our next large fundraiser will be Dia de los Muertos in November. This is a large event consisting of art, altars, music, food, etc.

Contact information:
The Jose Martinez Memorial Galeria
1222 Broadway Street
Toledo, OH 43609​
(419) 241-1655
eod.sqacc@gmail.com

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Centro Tyrone Guzman – Minneapolis, MN

Centro Tyrone Guzman was established in 1974 in Minneapolis, MN, and has worked since then to improve the community by focusing on education, health and wellness, and engagement. It is named after Tyrone Guzman, who dedicated 13 years of service to the center before his premature death. Check out below our interview with Marlon Ferrey, Information Center Manager.

Graduation, Centro Tyrone Guzman

1. What is the history of this center? When did it begin and why? How has it changed from its beginning to now? How is it involved in the Latinx community?
The agency was originally called Centro Cultural Chicano and was created in 1974 by members of the Mexican American community in Minneapolis. The original mission was to provide services and advocacy to that severely under-represented community. Since then the demographics have changed and now we serve growing groups of expatriates from all over Latin America. It started as a center to represent and advocate for the Chicano community. Since then the demographics have been in a state of constant change, as different groups from different nations migrate to MN. Now we work with families who have either recently arrived to the US, or have resided for a few years here, but whose children are born and raised here. The programs have changed to fit the needs of the populations at the time.  As the demographics morph constantly, so do the services and the focal point of the agency. Programs that were crucial in 2000 may be a dime a dozen now, so we search for where the needs are today. At the beginning of the millennium the agency became Centro Inc. and we recently changed it to Centro Tyrone Guzman in memory to the director who took the agency to a higher level by creating progressive services that would benefit our clientele in the longer term.

2. Could you tell us a little about the community you serve?
We work with the Hispanic community which is in reality diverse communities, since our clients come from different countries and regions of Latin America. The commonalities would be language and history (and even those can sometimes be flimsy), but there is a richness of traditions and ways that we take into account when working with them. The majority of our clients are from Mexico, Ecuador, and Central America, some from the Caribbean. They are made up of different races and different ethnicities. They come from a variety of socioeconomic groups and with a variety of educational backgrounds. The main commonality is that they are here to build better lives.

3. What are the aims or goals of this center?
To provide our clients with the tools needed to overcome the huge barriers they face so they can attain their self-sufficiency. We want to help build vibrant communities, with access to health and education. Of course, easier said than done, as this becomes harder and harder every year. We also are working with the future generations who will provide the leadership in years to come, as well as with the past generations to provide them with wisdom and culture. I say communities because a lot of people tend to place us as on homogeneous group, but we see a huge variety of cultures, traditions, and dialects that change from country to country and even from region to region. Latin America is a large and colorful spectrum.

4. What are 3-5 current priorities or projects and why these are priorities?
Education of children and youth; healthy families (nutrition, exercise, inter-generational communication); healthy senior citizens (both physically and mentally if possible, emotionally for sure); culture/identity; information/awareness.

5. Why is outreach to Latinas/os important?
Every community is important in a diverse society. The many groups who have arrived from the many parts of Latin America have brought a richness of talent, skills and ideas, which their children can potentially make them even more powerful. All these ideas and labors will not only make their communities stronger, but the larger society in general will benefit. Also, communities who have been part of this country for many generations haven’t always had full access to the tools to move forward, and when they have accomplished something it has been by overcoming phenomenal barriers. Reaching out to these groups and working with them is going to be important to help them grow to their full potential. When people talk about a growing community, it should not be only in numbers but in progressiveness. Numbers without progress is nothing.

6. Does the center support cultural expression or cultural activities in the community? If so, in what ways?
The cultural aspect is the spine of everything we do. Every program is designed with the purpose to serve in a manner that would be familiar and culturally friendly to clients. Cultural touches, from arts to food, with stories and traditions, provide the people with a sense of identity and pride. This cultural base is not designed to isolate them in bubble communities, but to help them be part of the bigger society without losing their sense of self. Also to learn from each other’s cultures.

7. How can people get involved with this center?
They can donate directly  or through United Way, they can volunteer with a couple of our programs, sign up for Summer internships, or organize a drive when needed.

8. What are some of the upcoming events with this center?
After the summer activities are over in mid-August, the two main events are the Day of the Dead exhibit in collaboration with Minneapolis Institute of Art (dates TBD), and a Christmas party for 700 children and their families on December 15.

Contact information:
1915 Chicago Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 874-1412 (tel)
(612) 874-8149 (fax)

infocenter@centromn.org