El Taller Latino Americano is community-based arts and education institution founded in New York City in 1979 to bridge the gap between Latin Americans and North Americans through the language of art, dance and music. In this opportunity, we talked with the organization’s Managing Director, Alexandra Castaño.
El Taller is located in El Barrio's Artspace PS 109 on East 99th between 2nd and 3rd and you can watch their videos at nyxt.nyc/eltaller.
How did El Taller Latino Americano come to exist?
It came to exist from the idea of unifying people and diverse communities and teach about Latin America’s culture, music and art, and of course Español de las Americas.
What societal problems are you trying to solve?
We are trying to unify and create community, break social, religious, and political barriers that keep us apart. Value the diversity and its cultural richness. Our space - now online - is an island where everyone is welcome.
Which communities do you support? What are the main age groups that El Taller works with?
We work with all age groups from kids, teens, adults, to elderly people. To support all communities in New York is part of our mission.
Does El Taller collaborate with other organizations?
Yes, we collaborate with Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Mount Sinai, and Montefiore hospitals, Harlem One Stop, Castle Bridge School, among others.
Image via tallerlatino.org.
El Taller's history, dating back to 1979, is testimony to the nature of community in New York City, one assembled in the atmospheres of the home, the public plaza, the classroom, the stage, and the artist's studio. The social impact of offering the chance to participate in cultural arts activities and education within the community of El Taller is not only evident by the number of visitors, participants, teachers, and students; the group also sees the palpable effect of collective action and collaboration on individuals and groups, experiences that serve as expressions of shared humanity and cultural heritage.
How is El Taller adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and what is your plan of action for this second part of the year?
We switched our Spanish classes to online programs on Zoom, concerts and exhibits online, and kids classes online. We are trying to create a system where we can offer the majority of our programming online. We are training ourselves to be efficient and creative online. It’s been very difficult for us because our main objective is to build communities and to unifying them as well. We are looking for ways that we can still do that but it’s not easy. Requires a lot of work and creativity.
What are the main programs and workshops that El Taller offers?
Spanish for children currently offers a Saturday program and an after school program, ¨Aventuras del Verano Summer Camp¨, and music, dance, and art workshops for school groups. Spanish for adults currently has conversational Spanish for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.
Would you like to say anything additional?
We are an organization with more than 41 years of existence. We have a big history that is compiled in our Archivos del Taller where language education, music, art, literature, dance, and culture coexist and have gotten together to unify communities and build new ones. So people should check our website where they can see what el taller has done during all these years of existence!
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