Conexiones Program Detail

Anna Maria Mendieta's "Tango del Cielo," photo courtesy of the artist

Agenda, Sunday, August 28

Note Location: Downtown Dance & Movement, 1144 South Hope Street (between 11th & 12th)

Program starts at 9:00am

Program Detail

Antonio Gomez demonstrating the quijada (donkey jaw).
photo by Adam Knight, courtesy of Antonio Gomez

Mapping the Latin Musical Migrations

Music speaks to the soul of a people. It reveals our past journeys and encounters, as well as our dreams and aspirations. While the term “Latin music” provides a convenient catch-all, it falls short of incorporating the wealth of expression that both distinguishes and unifies a complex range of styles, from tejano to tango, rumba to reggaetón, son jarocho to samba, and cumbia to corrido. Using media and live instruments, we’ll examine how the encounters that created Latin American cultures are embedded in the music itself. We will also explore the impact of U.S. Latinos and Latin Americans in the shaping of other genres including jazz, rock, country and hip hop. By exploring the stories behind the music, we will challenge ourselves to better connect with the communities we serve. 

Led by Antonio Gomez, Education Manager / Broadway Center for the Performing Arts

Marketing & Social Media: Secrets to Building a Loyal Latino Audience

Engaging Latino audiences is about more than just “to translate or not to translate” your advertising. It requires a thoughtful approach to social media, digital and other online engagement, as well as traditional avenues of TV, radio, and print. For this session, 3 experts from across the media spectrum share their insights, honed over decades of combined experience working in in the #1 Latino market area in the country (or put another way, where nearly one out of two people living in the city is Latino).”


Eddie Cota, Creative Director / Champion City
Yadira Rosas, Manager, Community Empowerment & Partnerships / Univision Communications, Inc.
Tom Nguyen, Blogger & Arts Connector / EnClave.LA & CultureGap.LA
Moderator: Mariah Martinez, Co-founder /

The New Latina/o: Unveiling the Many Faces of Multi-Cultural, Bilingual Audiences/Communities 

In 2014, 'Latinos' would outnumber 'Whites' as the largest ethnic group in California, with Los Angeles having the largest population than any other county in the nation ... but what does that mean for the Arts and it's ability (or inability) to reflect changing demographics to a constantly fluctuating market. Common stereotypes like “one-size fits all” marketing strategies or “book it and they will come” programming can lead to fail attempts to engage with new audiences. There is a need to implement an approach that considers generational gaps, migration patterns, linguistic differences when programming and embrace strategic plans that identify growing audiences as a grassroots community effort that requires long term institutional investment. Engage in conversation with marketing, community based and programming professionals who share their work, challenges and visions for authentically reflecting, arts programming, and authentic marketing efforts to the future of Los Angeles, and the country.


Cynthia Fuentes, Marketing Manager, Promotions & Partnerships / Los Angeles Philharmonic
Betty Avila, Associate Director / Self-Help Graphics
Diana Beas, Director of Advertising, Secret Road Music Services​
Moderator: Hector Flores, Artist / Las Cafeteras


Three Case Studies: Building Community through Artist-Led Engagement

As our communities grow and evolve, artists, arts organizations, presenters, and community activists are seeking new ways to thoughtfully and meaningfully engage diverse populations that have been traditionally overlooked and underserved. In practice, this often means making profound changes to the traditional models and roles of art-making and presenting. This session offers case studies of three artist-led works from California’s Coachella Valley, Washington’s Yakima Valley, and New York City.

Photo by Jorge Perezchica, courtesy of Crisalida Community Arts Project/McCallum Theatre

Master of Ceremonies: Phil Esparza

Case Study One: The McCallum Theatre and Crisalida Community Arts: Effecting positive change within the Hispanic Community

Starting in 2013 the McCallum Theatre began envisioning a large-scale outreach project to connect with four largely underserved Hispanic agricultural communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley. With support from the James Irvine Foundation, and with the leadership of Dr. David Gonzalez, the two-year project (completed in June 2016) was a resounding success: 300+ arts workshops, publication of 8 books of poetry, the creation of a bi-lingual theater company, an eighty-foot public art mural, a mobile art gallery/studio, sponsorship and participation at numerous festivals, readings, concerts, seminars, a grand finale performance with thirty-five local artists, and much more. Crisalida achieved its success through effective partnerships with local housing, health, education, labor, and artistic communities.

presented by Dr. David Gonzalez, poet/storyteller

A photo of an impromptu art and music workshop held outside of the Yakima City Hall while the city council argued and heard public comment on an ACLU lawsuit regarding Latino disenfranchisement. This photo captures two girls drawing and creating a community that they want to be part of. The ACLU won and Yakima now has three Latina city council members (one of whom now serves as Mayor). Photo by Yesenia Hunter, courtesy of the artist

Case Study Two: Building Deliberate Communities

The aim of the Yakima Fandango Community is to create spaces for connections to others and to history through exploration of arts, poetry and music making. We share in the “spirit of the fandango” which is to say, we share the spirit of learning and making together. We aim to facilitate dialogue about belonging, identity and social justice and find ways to express this through art. Working with partners throughout the Yakima Valley and abroad, we’ve created art with hundreds of individuals, some which is now part of the permanent collection of the Yakima Valley Museum and the City of Yakima, Washington.

presented by James Hunter and Yesenia Hunter, artists/community activists

Case Study Three: moving and passing/peh-LO-tah/

Produced to coincide with Joseph’s forthcoming premiere peh-LO-tah at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, moving and passing examines the cultural complexities of soccer, including ways in which the global sport may be used to connect young people with the arts and bring awareness to issues facing immigrant communities. Joseph will work with New York City youth in soccer clinics and writing workshops, stimulating discussions around global economies and sports as politics. Spoken word poems and storytelling will form the basis of a theatrical experience featuring live music and choreography inspired by South African and Brazilian dance and the quick footwork necessary in soccer. moving and passing is supported by a commission from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

presented by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, poet/performer


Come prepared to participate! The Conexiones Seminar will include four concurrent breakout sessions each focusing on a critical issue. These highly interactive sessions will include a moderator to facilitate the conversation and a recorder to capture the key points.

with Daniel French, Artist, Las Cafeteras, and Mel Puljic, Agent, FLi Arists

with Shane Cadman, Theatre Manager and Production Coordinator / Whittier College, and Ernest Figueroa, Producer, The Broad Stage

with Elena Muslar / Arts Advocate, Leader & Activist

with Jackie Lopez, Artistic Director, Versa Style Dance Company, and Heather Rigby, General Manager of Productions, Ford Theatre Foundation


  • Contribute your key take-aways
  • What are the challenges ahead?
  • Frame how the conversation will continue at future Western Arts Alliance Conferences and beyond…

with Leah Keith, Booking Representative, Opus 3 Artists

Closing Performance

Mayda Del Valle, Poet, Performer, Teaching Artist


As the child of Puerto Rican migrants who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, my work originates in the embodiment of what I consider to be a hybrid identity and experience. It is part Spanish and English, part hip-hop and salsa, part Nas and Sonia Sanchez, part Shakespeare and John Leguizamo. It is inherited history as well as traditions remixed and invented.

I create autobiographical narratives that utilize spoken-word poetry and music, intended for live performance. Rooted in the aesthetics of hip-hop and the urban Latino experience, my work explores themes of healing, transformation and the recovery of ancestral memory in the modern day diaspora. I seek to challenge traditional western approaches to performance by creating a communal participatory space where audiences are invited to journey into their own cultural narratives and mythologies.