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Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network promotes community, connection, professional growth

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network promotes community, connection, professional growth
Poet and writer Yara Liceaga-Rojas (center) moderates a panel of Afro-Latinx artists during an event to announce the launch of Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network. PHOTO: COURTESY OF HYDE SQUARE TASK FORCE

Hyde Square Task Force, on behalf of Boston’s Latin Quarter cultural district, has created an online network and directory of Afro-Latinx artists working in all media in Boston. The network serves two primary purposes: to promote local artists and make them accessible for booking and commissions, and to create a community of artists that will benefit from connectivity and professional development tools.

“These artists are still not represented always in our city,” says Celina Miranda, executive director of Hyde Square Task Force. “How do we make sure that they are being supported, getting the visibility that would result in more equitable representation in terms of arts and culture in the city of Boston and access to resources?”

Online, users of Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network (BALAN) can search the directory by artist name or discipline. Artists of all media are included, from hip-hop recording artist and producer Billy Dean Thomas to photographer and video producer Edgar Dominguez and dancer and artistic director Mar Parrilla.

Poet and writer Yara Liceaga-Rojas is one of the network’s members. She led the first professional development workshop for the group, focusing on writing and grammar for grant applications, as well as other ways to apply for grants and funding.

“We as in the arts and culture sector, and we as Afro Latinos or Latines, we are very versed in financial trauma,” says Liceaga-Rojas. “So the topics surrounding money and financing your work and your life can be emotionally heavy. So I always try to make it as light as possible, as inclusive as possible.”

This workshop hit on two important barriers for many artists in the Afro-Latinx community — finding the funding to support work and life, and navigating written forms, applications and requirements, particularly for artists speaking English as a second language.

Professional development like this provides crucial information, but Liceaga-Rojas also hopes to see opportunities for networking and community-building among the Afro-Latinx artists.

To participate in the network, artists can submit a short online form, accessed via the directory, with information about themselves and their work. Once approved and added to the network, artists will begin to receive invitations to events and workshops. Anyone who identifies as a Black or brown Afro-Latinx artist is welcome.

We now know that there are so many artists out there with so many different disciplines that are not getting the visibility that they deserve,” says Miranda. “And so we are looking for them and want to work together to make sure that our city continues to be representative of the richness that we have, the diversity that we have.”

Afro-Latinx artists, arts, Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network, Hyde Square Task Force