This is a guest blog post by Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, Executive Director MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana
Southwest Airlines proudly gives back to the Hispanic community during Hispanic Heritage Month and all throughout the year through its support of nonprofit organizations like MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana.
I believe that art has the power to unite people and build community. Art is created with partnerships and with heart—you have to be passionate about what you do in any business, but especially in the arts. That is why I’m excited to go to work every day at MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana. Located in downtown San Jose, MACLA is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience that incubates new visual, literary, and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. More than 35,000 people participate in our programs each year.
Jose Flores, Barber, cuts hair at opening of Custom Lives, art by Nery Gabriel Lemus in background. Photo by Damian Kelly.A strong community anchor since the early 1990s when we were the first arts group on our block, MACLA is now nationally recognized as an award-winning, best-in-class organization leading the dialogue about what’s important in multicultural society and providing a welcoming space for all. Our work is built on authentic partnerships—from our artists, to our audience members, to our youth participants, and to our corporate supporters.
Adrian Esparza installation at MACLA.
While all of our partners have heart, not everyone features a Heart in their logo like Southwest Airlines. The Heart is symbolic of how Southwest Airlines is to MACLA as a partner—the Heart touches all aspects of our organization. Visual artists fly to San Jose for exhibition openings and share their art with our community. World-class performers from as far away as New York grace our stage and inspire us with new music, dance, and theater. Our youth are able to fly, often for the first time, learn public speaking skills, express themselves, and write their future at an annual poetry festival. Our staff is able to take full advantage of professional development opportunities that otherwise would be cost prohibitive.
MACLA South First Friday participatory performance with Arenas Dance Company. Photo by Damian Kelly.
This past year, I was thrilled to be one of 50 arts leaders selected to participate in the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program. The program kicked off at the Harvard School of Business. As I flew from San Jose to Boston for a week-long training, I welled up with gratitude when reflecting upon the partners who came to support my professional development. From the Kresge Foundation who covered my tuition to my Board at MACLA who encouraged me to take time away from the office to tackle big questions facing our community to my husband who agreed to care for our very active children while I was away, and Southwest Airlines who literally got me there and provided my travel.