Hostos Community College: Partnerships
The experiences of collaborating on the study abroad programs and the festivals developed and expanded partnership relationships for the Hosts Center in unanticipated ways and have fostered an environment of collaboration among the partners. The original campus-based partners – the Arts Center, the Humanities Department and the Office of International Studies – planned and coordinated two summer abroad sessions in 2007 and 2008.
Artist & Community Partners: BomPlenazo festival
Centro Cultural Rincón Criollo (“Casita de Chema”) (www.bombaboricua.com/Tributes/La%20Casita/La%20Casita.htm)
Key partners: Norma Cruz, president & José “Chema” Soto, founder
Centro Cultural Rincón Criollo has also been a stalwart partner for the BomPlenazo festival, serving as host for its culminating event which in 2008 doubled its attendance, thanks in large part to local promotional efforts carried out by Rincón Criollo members. Here again, the Center’s relationship with Rincón has grown to the point where it has agreed to be a venue for the BronxIndie performance series, which in the next two years will showcase local independent artists who are creating exciting and innovative work. Notably, the inspiration of the series came from young performers in the BomPlenazo and Quijombo festivals who have been experimenting with new repertoires while they perform in traditional folkloric ensembles. At least four artists who participated in the festivals have been booked for the BronxIndie series.
Centro Cultural Segunda Quimbamba
Key Partner: Juan Cartagena, president – has been a member of the festival advisory committee.
Alex LaSalle, musical director. Alex LaSalle, musical director of the Alma Moyó (www.myspace.com/almamoyo) ensemble featured in the BomPlenazo festival, joined the Hostos Center as partner and member of the advisory committee. He was selected by existing members who felt that the committee should give a voice to young practitioners of the traditions, such as Mr. LaSalle. Alex also conducted one of the training sessions for the cultural guides, gave a lecture/demonstration for a Humanities class and participated in the encounter of the masters, young and old, held on October 11. He will hopefully join the study abroad students as cultural guide and mentor in 2010 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. A native of the region, Alex is steeped in its lore and is an authority on the region’s bomba and plena styles.
Los Pleneros de la 21 (www.losplenerosdela21.org)
Key partners: Juan Gutiérrez, director & Julia Gutiérrez, member
While Los Pleneros de la 21, through its director Juan Gutiérrez, have been invaluable advisors to the BomPlenazo festival since its inception, they in effect became co-presenters in 2008 when they hosted two children’s concerts at the nearby Julia de Burgos cultural center and an encounter of young and senior masters at Pregones Theater. These events were new to the festival and were included at the suggestion of Mr. Gutiérrez. Julia Gutiérrez, lead dancer of Los Pleneros, has also played a key role in evaluating and critiquing the cultural guide component. At her recommendation, cultural guide services will be provided at schools and community organizations before and after festival events. (See discussion above.) To exercise more control and help ensure quality service, the Hostos Center hopes has enlisted Ms. Gutiérrez’s services as coordinator of the cultural guide component.
Roberta Singer, ethnomusicologist (CityLore: www.citylore.org) – has been a member of the festival advisory committee and served as production consultant since 2002.
Artist & Community Partners: Quijombo festival
Alianza Dominicana (www.alianzaonline.org)
Key partners: Moisés Pérez, executive director & Iván Domínguez, artistic director, Conjunto Folklórico – have been members of the Quijombo festival advisory committee and trained Cultural Guides for the 2007 festival
While the Center has always prided itself for its collaborative approach to programming and regularly co-produced events and festivals with such organizations as Centro Cultural Rincón Criollo and Los Pleneros de la 21, it is now working with them on entirely new projects, e.g., the BronxIndie project and a new and refined cultural guide training program. Similarly the Hostos Center is about to embark on an expanded partnership with Alianza Dominicana as the latter prepares to move into its newly constructed Casa Afro-Quisqueya (CA-Q) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. CA-Q has the potential of becoming the premier Dominican cultural/multi-arts organization in the United States. (Wallace Edgecombe has joined the organization’s board.) All these are formal, long-term and, in most cases, contractual relationships stemming from the Creative Campus project experience.
- Humanities Department’s Caribbean and Latin American Studies Unit served as the key academic partner ensuring the academic rigor of the study abroad program, as well as bringing components and lessons from the study abroad field work back into the classes held on the Hostos campus. A key leader of this effort was Professor Carlos Sanabria.
- The Office of International Study continues to play a vital role in promoting, coordinating, and strengthening the study abroad program. A key leader in this effort was Ms. Ana García-Reyes.
- The Division of Student Development’s role, though not anticipated at the outset of the project, has been invaluable to the success of the summer sessions. Specifically, the division’s vice-president, Dr. Lisa Montgomery, assigned her executive assistant, Johanna Gómez, to the sessions as a counselor and chaperone. Ms. Gómez has also contributed to the planning of the sessions. The original partners did not foresee the need for this support when they drafted the original proposal. Many of the students participating in the sessions were minors (reflecting a change in Hostos student demographics) and benefited from Ms. Gómez’s guidance and occasional interventions.
Prior to the partnership built through the Creative Campus grant, never had the Hostos Center’s programming been formally linked to classroom instruction. Never had the Center collaborated in activities and shared responsibilities (recruitment, registration and programming of study/travel itineraries) with academic departments.
Michael Max Knobbe, Executive Director of BronxNet Cable Network (www.bronxnet.org), personally accompanied students on the study abroad program and has been present at the festivals to serve as documentarian of the programs.