Arte Inc., a New Haven based non-profit, is finding new and creative ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month amidst the pandemic.
Arte Inc.’s mission lies in connecting the Latinx youth with the arts. To do so, the organization brings educational events to the New Haven community every Hispanic Heritage Month.
“With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s just unbelievable that we have such division in our country,” David Greco, co-founder of Arte Inc said. “We are so similar in so many ways, and that’s the whole point of Arte.”
Greco and Daniel Diaz, who co-founded Arte Inc. in 2004, first noticed the gap between New Haven’s arts and Latinx communities while serving as board members in city organizations. When Greco and Diaz discovered that Lantinx students constituted nearly half of the student body in New Haven schools, they were disheartened by the disconnect between the two communities.
Since its founding, the organization has expanded beyond the arts to include an array of programs for Latinx youth. These programs include after-school opportunities, weekend events in both the arts and other fields, scholarship opportunities, college readiness classes, field trips and Socialization & Learning Adventures Through Education (SLATE), which teaches children life and social skills.
In past years, one of the organization’s main events for Hispanic Heritage Month has been an art gallery. The gallery, covered in floor-to-ceiling paintings, showcases the works of Latinx youth. This year, public safety regulations for COVID-19 made the gallery impossible.
Diaz said that Arte was determined to find socially-distant ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Even though exhibits have been in-person in the past, the team moved to an online platform for its Heroes & Icons exhibit. The exhibit uses photos and short biographies to showcase the lives and accomplishments of important Latinx figures.
“It’s a way to show the community that Latinos are a part of the quilt of this nation,” said Diaz. “We are a part of this quilt and we are people who produce for this nation and work for the betterment of our community.”
Upon interacting with scientists at the Yale School of Medicine and graduate students with Yale’s Exploring Science program, Greco realized the present importance of public health for the Latinx community. He noted that Arte should shift their focus to celebrating the “art of science.”
Richard Crouse is a graduate student in neuroscience. When describing how Exploring Science’s mission fits into Arte Inc’s work and Hispanic Heritage Month, he said that too often, for youth of color, there is no accessible path to careers in science.
“We’re really trying to put [this disparity] at the forefront,” said Crouse, “and show them faces that look like them.”
Arte is partnering with Exploring Science to distribute 200 goodie-bags to families if they attend a Zoom experiment demonstration hosted by graduate students on Oct. 3. The bags, hand-packed by Greco, will be filled with snacks and tools for the experiments. Families can both watch a live demonstration and conduct their own experiments. Children can then discuss their observations with graduate students in individual breakout rooms.
Greco emphasized the need to support not just Latinx youth interested in the arts, but the entire community as a whole, particularly during this Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
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