Hi again, everyone. It’s Raul, your YBG Festival Administrative & Social Media Assistant, here to give you the last half of my San Antonio trip report. If you missed part one you can read it here.
NALAC’s organizers gave us a great artistic tour of San Antonio. On our fourth day of the Leadership Institute we were given a tour of SaySí, a multi-disciplinary arts education organization that serves middle and high school students throughout all of San Antonio. SaySí provides free art classes five days a week to their students, as well as opportunities for the older high school students to take on leadership roles by letting them teach the younger students.
As for SaySí’s facilities… lets just say that our group of Institute participants, who are all professionals in the arts, were very jealous at the amazing resources that these students have access to! SaySí’s facilities include a black box theater with dressing rooms, multiple computers for photo and video editing, a wood shop, a dark room for learning photo development, and art studios for drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics! In addition to all of this, they also have exhibition space to display the art their students produce. All of the classes SaySí provides are free, but students must apply and be accepted into the program.
That same day one of the Institute participants, who happens to be a San Antonio native, informed us about a free outdoor concert going on that evening (free outdoor concert? What a novel idea!) at an art gallery called Artpace. Artpace is a major art gallery in San Antonio with an 18,000 square foot building and no entrance fee. Yes, all the exhibitions and events at Artpace are free. We were lucky enough to be in town for one of Artpace’s “Jazz on the Rooftop” events on the roof of their building. The band’s repertoire that evening was all pieces by Art Blakey, and of course the NALAC crew had to go out and dance. The crowd was so taken by our smooth moves we even got the attention of Amada Cruz, the Executive Director of Artpace. When I told her I worked for YBG Festival in San Francisco she said she’d heard of us! Very cool!
Of course no trip to San Antonio would be complete without a little live Tex-Mex music, and on a Friday night the best place to go for that is a restaurant called The Cove. The Cove specializes in local, organic food and live music throughout the weekend. We had the pleasure of listening to Miss Nessie & The Earfood Orchestra – a San Antonio blues, Tex-Mex-zydeco-rock band that put on a great show. Check out the video below.
The following day was our graduation ceremony. After 5 days of intense workshops, lectures on the history of Latino art in the United States, one on one conversations with the amazing staff of the Institute, and getting to know our fellow students, we were tired but excited because of everything we had accomplished. Excited to return home with a whole new support network spread around the country. We were ready to head home and put our knowledge and resources to work, but it was slightly bittersweet since we would be leaving each other.
This was an amazing program that I would recommend to any Latino/a who is involved in arts administration, regardless of whether the organization itself is oriented toward Latino art or not. The NLI is short, intense, packed full of information, and is designed to help build camaraderie among the participants. I feel like I left with 24 new brothers and sisters. It can be hard to explain just how special the experience was, but one of the great aspects is knowing that there are other people out there dealing with the same issues that all arts administrators run into, who share your love for the arts, and who are there to help you when you need it. It really does make you feel part of something bigger, and I came back with a renewed sense of purpose in what I do.
If anybody is interested in participating in the NALAC Leadership Institute visit NALAC’s NLI webpage to access the application and find out next year’s due date to apply.