April 15, 2014

SaludArte posterOn Saturday, April 26 residents of Boyle Heights and surrounding communities will have an opportunity to see, first hand, how cultural arts and community health go hand-in-hand at Hollenbeck Park. Organized by a Building Healthy Communities Boyle Heights, a community collaborative working to improve community health and support local artists through an initiative sponsored and supported by The California Endowment (TCE), SaludArte is the culminating celebration of a project that, for the last three years, has sought to identify and acknowledge cultural assets, or “cultural treasures” in Boyle Heights. 

The activation of cultural assets is part of a larger project aimed at building healthier communities across the state by engaging community stakeholders in specific communities and helping them determine what they feel are issues and concerns that need to be addressed on policy levels as well as at the grass roots. “The Endowment is excited to partner with the BHC collaborative in an effort that builds upon the rich tradition of arts and culture in Boyle Heights and advances a social justice movement addressing health issues,” says TCE Program Officer Jennifer Ybarra. 

An all-day event, SaludArte gathers many of the relevant creative and cultural streams identified by representatives of Boyle Heights-based organizations involved in the Boyle Heights Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative facilitated by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA). The idea, say organizers—among them Grammy-Award winning musician Quetzal Flores, lead ACTA staff member in Los Angeles—is to offer residents and neighbors a look at how the arts can help move a genuine neighborhood agenda forward as part of a process that seeks to build a healthier Boyle Heights from within.

A genuine expression of grass roots community arts, SaludArte kicks off at 9:30 am and offers a day-long array of workshops based on native cultural and artistic legacies that make Boyle Heights such a special place. Approximately 15 workshops will allow participants to learn about and contribute to kite-making, altar-building, songwriting, drumming, traditional homeopathic, holistic and herbal healing, papel picado, spoken word, mural painting, son jarocho, Obon Japanese dance and many other significant neighborhood cultural traditions.

“These workshops,” says ACTA program coordinator Citlalli Chávez, “will allow participants to become familiar with the goals of the BHC and recognize that arts can be an integral part of their efforts to improve the quality of life for everyone.” 

Joel Pérez, a member of the Boyle Heights “activating cultural assets” task force and Communications & Project Coordinator with Building Healthy Communities – Boyle Heights, is excited about bridging the work of the collaborative with the creative community to enhance the collaborative campaigns around restorative justice, street vendor legalization, as well as access to health and education among others. “SaludArte is a tangible way to help highlight the cultural traditions, spaces and practices that give Boyle Heights its distinct identity,” says Pérez. Flores, Chávez and Pérez have co-organized the SaludArte with representatives from East LA Community Corp., Casa 0101, Brooklyn & Boyle, YMCA, Maternal & Child Health Access (MCHA) and the BHC collaborative. 

Quetzal Flores is pleased to add that SaludArte task force members are “hoping this is the beginning of a deliberate relationship between community artists and organizers.” He is also happy to add that the SaludArte closing celebration will feature Viento Callejero, “a band led by Gloria Estrada, a former member of La Santa Cecilia and one of East LA’s most exciting new groups.” 

SaludArte registration (free) is available online at http://bit.ly/SaludArte. For more information, visit the Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/431528390326051/.