Paella parties, Latin music and a lot of Hispanic pride will come to New Haven this month as Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations kick off.
The month-long event, which , which aims to support Hispanic artists and expose non-Hispanics to a different culture, will feature art exhibits, flamenco presentations and museum trips, all centered around this year’s theme: “Musica.” The festivities are organized by Arte, Inc., a New Haven nonprofit that promotes Hispanic art and artists.
Arte Executive Director David Greco said one of the primary goals of these events is to gain recognition for the diversity month, which has been around since 1988 but is often forgotten. It also serves as a cultural outlet for local Hispanics, he said.
“There is a lot of diversity within the Hispanic community that makes it unique,” Arte President Daniel Diaz said. “It’s important that we celebrate and showcase that. The arts community is huge here, but the Hispanic community didn’t get a lot of exposure, and we’re trying to change that.”
Arte tries to make its events all-inclusive, not limiting itself to a particular Hispanic group, Diaz said. Since its inception four years ago, the group has organized events featuring everything from Argentine flamenco to Dominican food to Puerto Rican music. The organization has also tried successfully to attract non-Hispanics — the attendance at Arte’s events is about 40 percent non-Hispanic, Greco said.
In the future, Greco said, Arte hopes to expand its celebrations and increase attendance, though it already attracts people from all over the state. Greco said the group also wants to raise money to give more opportunities to underexposed Hispanic artists. Arte has already given out more than $20,000 in scholarships and bought $30,000 worth of art since its founding.
Finally, Diaz and Greco said, they hope to continue to pursue their primary goal of uniting Hispanic communities with one another, as well as with non-Hispanic communities.
“It’s great, because we have created this bridge between these two communities to learn about each other’s cultures,” Diaz said. “New Haven is so diverse and so intermingled that we have to work together. There has to be a willingness to collaborate.”
Diaz said he sees art as the ideal medium to bring diverse people together because it “has no barriers, no language.” Art is also a way to help people adapt to a different culture, he said, and to explain Hispanic heritage to non-Hispanics in an accessible way.
Kara Arsenault, marketing and development associate at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, agreed that it is important to bring together different perspectives in art, both in content and in type.
“These experiences help people learn more about other cultures and other people,” she said. “It can really change the way people think about themselves, and the way they think about the world.”
Other events during the celebration will include a sculpting workshop, a trip to a Latino Artisan Fair, and a folklore performance.