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THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER – Arte * Poesia * Musica Represents Trend in Cultural Programming

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Culture lovers will enjoy a special evening of bilingual fusion featuring Latin American visual art, poetry, and music when Opera Carolina, the Mint Museum, and ArtSi collaboratively present Arte*Poesía* Música Thursday.

The concert is illustrative of the trend of arts and cultural institutions combining forces to broaden their reach and highlight programming representative of Charlotte’s evolving and diverse culture.

“More than 14 percent of the city’s population is Hispanic,” said Claudia Soria, Latino community education liaison for the Mint and director of ArtSi, a community initiative advancing local Latino arts and culture.

“Part of the Latino initiative at the Mint is to engage people who might not ordinarily access the museum. The first step is to be mindful of language and have bilingual labels in our exhibitions, and offer Spanish speaking guides. Our mission is bringing art to all the people in our community and that involves making people feel welcome. Arte*Poesia*Musicia is a natural fit for us; we’re excited to be involved.”

ArtSi’s origins grew from the Mint’s popular “Con A de Arte – A is for Art” annual celebration of Hispanic arts and culture that began in 2003. In 2009, community organizations including the North Carolina Arts Council, the Arts and Science Council, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library reached out to festival organizers encouraging expansion for greater community impact.

ArtSi works with cultural and educational institutions to connect artists and community members through workshops, classes, exhibitions and education programs. Partners include the Levine Museum of the New South, the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, the Latin American Contemporary Art Gallery, Latin American Women’s Association, and Queens University.

Opera Carolina has co-produced similar programs over the past three years with concerts featuring Charlotte’s Asian and Russian communities. They have partnered with Pfeiffer University, The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Charlotte-based educational and cultural organization, United Communities Association.

“Audiences will experience a unique blend of musical styles,” said Bogota-born guitarist Aris Quiroga. “We’ll present Brazilian and Spanish music, an eight-piece Latin Jazz Orchestra and a variety of Latin rhythms.”

A fixture in Charlotte’s Latin American musical community, Quiroga worked closely with Opera Carolina general director James Meena to identify a representative blend of area musical talent featured in the APM concert. Quiroga performed in the Opera Carolina production of “La Vida Breve” in their 2006/2007 season.

The evening’s musicians include David Solis Olson, Aris Quiroga, James Brock and Diane Cox with the Tanja Bechtler Trio, Reinaldo Brahn, Pavelid Castañeda, and the Rhythm Plus Group. Poets featured are Kurma Murrain-Collins, Irania Patterson, and Jose Vasquez. Opera Carolina artists performing are Jonathan White, Corey Lovelace, Harrison Bumgardner, Daidree Tofano, and Jonathan White.

“There are few access points in any community where people, regardless of race, background or status can freely participate in,” said Meena. “Sports are one example. Everyone regardless of background can cheer on the Panthers or Hornets. The same equation should be applied to the arts. Our cultural institutions belong to everyone. We have a social and civic responsibility to use our art to reach our community.”

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