At Large  September 27, 2022  Rebecca Schiffman

7 Puerto Rican Arts Organizations to Follow after Hurricane Fiona

MAPR.org

Carlos Cancio "Through the fiery Antillean street goes Tembandumba de la Quimbamba" (2003), Acrylic on canvas, Collection of Museum of Art of Puerto Rico.

On Sunday, September 18th, Hurricane Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico with devastating effects. With over two feet of rain causing mudslides and destroying homes, Fiona has left Puerto Ricans without electricity, water, and shelter, bringing back agonizing memories of another storm, Hurricane Maria, that hit the island almost five years prior in 2017. Now, Puerto Ricans once again emerge from their battered homes and shelters to evaluate the damage. 

Non-profit organizations have risen to the challenge to serve their communities. And while the US has sent aid to Puerto Rico, arts organizations are often the last to be resuscitated, even though they are sometimes the most vital aspects of a community. 

Puerto Rico is an archipelago comprised of seven islands along with a few more islets and keys with a rich history and culture. Inhabited in the 15th century by Taíno people who encountered Christopher Columbus in his second voyage in 1493, Puerto Rico remained a Spanish colony until 1898, when the island became part of US jurisdiction. Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been US citizens through birthright. 

This complex history has lent itself to equally varied artists and architecture. From 16th-century fortresses to luscious and tropical landscape paintings, to Baroque and Art Deco buildings, Puerto Rico has always been an artistic island. In honor of the importance of these historical and cultural sites, we’ve rounded up some incredible arts organizations that are doing vital work to help the Puerto Rican art community back on their feet.

Flamboyan Arts Fund

Flamboyan Arts Fund group photo

Flamboyan Arts Fund has been behind the biggest investment in the arts in Puerto Rico, sustaining many organizations including museums, theatres, arts education programs, and concert venues. Their goal is to revitalize the Puerto Rican arts community to help tell their stories and their daily lives. The Flamboyan Foundation partnered with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton the musical to create this fund, an initiative to preserve the arts community in Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the Fund granted more than $1.3 million in hurricane relief efforts to nonprofit organizations in Puerto Rico and is continuing the work today.

Hispanic Federation

Hispanic Federation group dance class

The Hispanic Federation is a Latino membership organization that has invested over $50 million dollars in Puerto Rico recovery with a focus on funding non-profit organizations. They are on the ground in Puerto Rico now providing emergency relief services.

Taller Salud is a community-based feminist organization that provides access to women’s healthcare, protects against violence, and fosters economic development through education and activism. As a grassroots feminist organization that has been a constant in the community for over 43 years, Taller Salud has been raising awareness of what the real issues are in their community of Loíza, a small town right outside of San Juan. In their latest Instagram post, they shared a harsh reality that Loíza is not part of the FEMA disaster declaration despite the fact that there are communities under water with families who have lost everything.

El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR.org)

Exterior of the El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR)

El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR) is one of the most extensive art museums on the island, featuring 24 exhibition galleries of Puerto Rican and Latino contemporary and modern artworks. The museum is housed in the restored and rehabilitated building of the former San Juan Municipal Hospital, as part of an effort to pay homage to Puerto Rican history for the benefit of future generations to come. In the wake of Hurricane Fiona, MAPR’s Center of Educational Innovation announced that it will be open to the community. They have computers, electricity, internet services, and more, so that community members can connect to work, study, or communicate with their loved ones abroad.

El Bastión

El Bastión community garden

El Bastión is a self-managed multidisciplinary cultural center created for the development of art and culture. They encourage artistic work through various initiatives, artistic and cultural activities including festivals, workshops, educational programs, among others. After Hurricane Maria, El Bastión became a space that provides assistance and basic services to residents of Old San Juan. El Bastión is supported by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, allowing the organization to use the historic grounds of the Casa Blanca Museum and its gardens.

Taller Comunidad La Goyco

Taller Comunidad La Goyco

Taller Comunidad La Goyco is a community workshop and cultural center serving the residents of the Machuchal sector and Calle Loíza. Dedicated to community empowerment, they seek to highlight the historical, social, and political wealth of the Santurce community.

AgitArt

AgitArte community

AgitArte is an organization comprised of working-class artists and cultural organizers who work at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ideology. Through initiating and facilitating art and cultural projects with grassroots communities in Puerto Rico, AgitArte has been working with hurricane relief funds to help their communities to continue their practices.

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