Loisaida Festival and Uptown Arts Stroll Kick Off Summer Cultural Season

The 30th anniversary of the festival is dedicated to the “spirit of the immigrant and migrant community.” (Photo provided to El Diario)

[Below are excerpts from a story by Liseth Pérez-Almeida]

Neither the island’s current crisis nor the gentrification sweeping the area – and much less the possibility of rain – will dampen the spirits at the Loisaida Festival, which this Sunday will celebrate 30 years dedicated to highlighting the history and contributions of the Puerto Rican community in the Big Apple.

“Keeping the tradition of bringing open-air cultural programming to a public space is very important to maintaining the visibility of the contributions of the Puerto Rican and Latino community on the Lower East Side. [The purpose is] to demonstrate that, despite the gentrification and the changes we have seen here in the last decade, Loisaida continues to possess a large Latino population,” said Libertad Guerra, artistic director of the Loisaida Festival and director of the Loisaida Center, Inc.

The event is expecting to attract more than 15,000 people. (Photo provided to El Diario)

The festival’s 30th anniversary, which will attract some 15,000 visitors, is dedicated to “the spirit of the immigrant and migrant community” and its important contributions to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and beyond. Former Marine turned singer, actor and activist J.W. Cortés will be back this year as the host of the festival and ambassador of the community.

Salsa, samba, charanga, mambo and rock and roll performances will dominate the main stage, whose lineup includes a mix of established artists and emerging talent from Puerto Rico and the rest of Latin America. Legendary Boricua musician Fran’ Ferrer, founder of bands Puerto Rico 2010 and Descarga Boricua, will be one of the highlights of the event, in addition to the musical show “Supermambo!: A Vibes Tribute to Tito Puente and Cheo Feliciano” and performances by all-female Afro-Brazilian/samba-reggae percussion group and 70s-style charanga by Son del Monte.

The festival will also feature theater performances as part of the 4th Annual Loisaida Festival TheatreLab, co-produced with Mezcolanza NYC. It will take place at the La Plaza Cultural Community Garden, located at 9th Street and Avenue C, and families will be able to enjoy a wide variety of fun activities and performances by artists from Puerto Rico. Among them, a flamenco show with Jeanne D’Arc, Lizbeth Román’s fusion of Caribbean bohemian music and popular rhythms, and Poncili Creación’s interactive sculptures. For more details on the programming, visit www.loisaidafest.org. (…)

Uptown Arts Stroll Turns 15

The Paseo de las Artes is an annual party for the whole family. (Photo by Gary Santana (GDS) via El Diario)

[Below are excerpts from a story by Francis Rodríguez]

For its 15th edition, the Uptown Arts Stroll reinvents itself, featuring over 150 events, 45 exhibits and 22 open studios showcasing the wide variety of cultural expressions from the Inwood and Upper Manhattan communities. For an entire month, the festival, which will include the West Harlem area, will celebrate the diversity and creativity of local artists.

This year’s Uptown Arts Stroll will kick off on May 31 at the United Palace with an event combining emerging talent and acclaimed artists from Upper Manhattan’s cultural scene.

Joanna E. Castro, director of Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), the festival organizers, said that the multidisciplinary event will present a series of concerts, guided walks, exhibits, workshops and theater plays for the whole family.

“We are very excited about this edition, which we are informally calling our ‘quinceañero’ because it is such a special anniversary, and it will feature a number of surprises for the community. One aspect we want to highlight is that, this year, we will have a significant amount of the programming happening in parks and that there will be live music on three Mondays of the month right before the screening of a movie,” said Castro about the events taking place in Inwood Hill Park. The first of these will take place on June 12 with a performance by Son Jarocho and the showing of the movie “La leyenda de La Llorona” – “The Legend of the Weeping Lady.”

The events in the Uptown Arts Stroll will cover a vast area extending from West 135th Street to West 220th Street.

Another new event will be the ArtStrollstice, referring to the longest day of the year and the beginning of the summer on June 21. Castro explained that NoMAA, in collaboration with Make Music New York, is inviting local institutions to offer musical programming (…).

“It will be a day dedicated to music; many institutions will join us for this event. In addition, we will hold five free workshops about [creating a photographic] portfolio, public speaking and grant writing for artists, as well as open studios, which were traditionally held over the course of one weekend but will now be split between two Saturdays (on July 10 and 17). The numbers have increased, and we will have more events than in previous years,” added Castro.

The festival will close at the Harlem School of the Arts on June 28, although activities will continue throughout Friday, June 30.

On opening night, Harambee Dance Company, musicians from the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra and singer-songwriter Victor Rosso will be performing.

Castro said that they have set up a space especially for this occasion where interested artists living in the area will be able to exhibit their work during the gala. The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance expects the event to attract around 300 people.

“Participating artists may bring a maximum of 4 pieces to the United Palace, where a curator will be waiting for them to organize the exhibit. The idea is to make them feel at home and to allow them to show their art, which, of course, they will be able to sell too,” she said.

Actor Elvis Nolasco, Harlem Stage Executive Director Patricia Cruz, Community Board 12 Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee Chair Elizabeth Lorris Ritter and visual artist and personal development coach Maggie Hernández-Knight will be honored during the opening ceremony.

“These four personalities were selected because of the contribution they have done, in one way or another, to the arts and the community. They are people who are not looking for praise, who are not seeking out recognition, but who we know are doing valuable work and deserve this tribute,” said Castro.


More information at: artstroll.com

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