May 22, 2012

photo pf Quetzal FloresAfter conducting a national search and open application process for a half-time program manager, ACTA is pleased to welcome its newest staff member, Quetzal Flores, who joins us with extensive experience as a community organizer, cultural worker, and accomplished artist.  As a program manager he will work to deepen and expand ACTA’s work in the Southern California region from ACTA’s new downtown Los Angeles field office that is co-located with Community Partners at the Center for Building Healthy Communities.

Growing up in grassroots movements, as the son of labor union organizers, Flores inherited an undying accountability to community struggles.  From land struggles with  South Central farmers, immigration reform, supermarket workers union strike, and the indigenous Zapatista struggle, to the everyday community struggles in East Los Angeles, he has been active with music in hand.

Since 1993, he has been working as the musical director for the East Los Angeles based rock group Quetzal.  Throughout his professional musical career, he has shared the stage and has collaborated with groups and artist such as; Los Lobos, Taj Majal, Zack De La Rocha (Rage Against the Machine), Los Van Van, Son De Madera, Susana Baca, and Daara J, Aloe Blacc, among others.  The ensemble Quetzal has made considerable impact in the world of Chicano music in the last 19 years.  The importance of their work is marked by their participation in events such as the Homegrown Music Series at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, the traveling exhibit American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, and the completion of five albums, the latest of which, Imaginaries, was released this year on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

Since 2002, Flores has been a central figure in the transnational dialogue between Chicana/o musicians and artists from California and Mexicano musicians and dancers from Veracruz, Mexico.   From this dialogue emerged many recordings, performances, publications, workshops, and community building efforts under the organizing auspices of “Fandango Sin Fronteras.”  To enhance this dialogue, Flores spent nine months in Xalapa, Veracruz, in 2007 with his family composing and recording music with women of “El Nuevo Movimiento Jaranero,” a movement geared at reinvigorating the son jarocho music tradition of Southern Veracruz.  Other work Flores is proud of is his work as an instructor for the Migrant Education Program in Boyle Heights, in which he designed and instructed a course, titled “Community Music” that was an inward exploration of the musical and cultural resources and riches of the Boyle Heights community.

With developed skills in music, organizing, and producing, Flores was hired as the Program Coordinator for the American Music Partnership of Seattle in 2008.  In facilitating this collaboration between the University of Washington (UW), The Experience Music Project, and KEXP 90.3 FM, he co-founded and launched the Seattle Fandango Project, one of the UW’s most successful and sustainable community partnership initiatives engaging diverse and historically aggrieved communities inside and outside the university.  From this effort, further trustworthy alliances were developed between various communities, organizations, and institutions.

Excited about joining ACTA’s staff, Flores states, “I am committed to the idea that artists be accessible and accountable to community and vice versa.  I believe that convening through art builds trust, which in turn fortifies community relationships.  I have consistently been proactive in creating spaces and conditions in which people can work, share, and celebrate with dignity.”  It is through this philosophy he has contributed to the vibrancy and transformations of the various communities in which he has lived and worked.

Quetzal Flores can be reached at or (213) 346-3285.