On the CreativeGround with Veronica Robles Cultural Center
In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, CreativeGround talked with Veronica Robles about the organization she founded just two years ago, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center. In this Q&A-style edition of "On the CreativeGround", Veronica talks about why she created the cultural center, what role it plays in the community, and how she'd like to see it develop overtime.
VERONICA: Veronica Robles Cultural Center’s mission is to promote Latino culture as an engine for stronger communities and economic growth. We want to teach, inspire, and perpetuate. Our programs are focused on traditional arts. VROCC is open to all families and individuals interested in learning, fostering, and sharing culture, traditions, and family values as well as those interested in learning about world cultures through food, music, dance, arts, and crafts.
Our programs include networking events for young professionals and folkloric (cultural) dance and music classes, as well as Spanish theater and Spanish language classes. VROCC facilities are also available to rent for rehearsals, events, and conferences.
We provide cultural enrichment for schools, organizations and corporations both on and off-site. VROCC brings Latin America to you.
CG: VROCC is located in Boston – what community need did you see in this area that led you to start the center?
VERONICA: I decided to open VROCC because there’s a lack of cultural representation for Latinos in the city, especially in the area of East Boston. All activities happen in Jamaica Plain, South Boston, Cambridge, etc. Now, East Boston young professionals and adults have the opportunity to learn Tango or Salsa dance in their own neighborhood. Last summer over 200 students of the Boston Public Schools participated in the summer learning program, and took a field trip to VROCC to experience Latino culture and learn some folk dances.
Unlike other Hispanic communities in the city of Boston – which on average are almost exclusively Puerto Rican or Dominican – East Boston's Latino community is mostly composed of immigrants from Central and South America. Immigrants have come from Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. As of 2010, East Boston was 60% Hispanic.
CG: It sounds like you offer a lot of great programs. What is one event or offering at your organization that should not be missed?
VERONICA: We offer two Arts and Crafts Fairs featuring local artist and artisans and of course we have VROCC monthly events that include ethnic food, dance, and music. This winter we will launch a series of Spanish movie screenings.
CG: VROCC launched very recently – where would you like to see the organization in 5 years?
VERONICA: We want to create jobs in the cultural field, so in 5 years I would like to see VROCC run by full-time paid staff including dance and music instructors, and art and film curators. We want to train and provide after-school and summer jobs for youth in the city.
Currently, we have classes that teach cultural dance from 5 Latin American countries. These VROCC performing groups participate in cultural and community events in authentic costumes representing each of those countries. In 5 years I would like to have all 21 countries of Latin America included in our dance classes and performing programs.
CG: Name some New England artists, creative businesses, or cultural nonprofits we should all know about.
VERONICA: Photographer Darlene Devita: I’ve worked with Darlene and she is a very talented photographer who captures the essence of artists and performers. Artist should have photos to represent their work, but sometimes it is hard to find the right photographer with the talent and skills needed. She also takes awesome photos for venues. This is why I think Creativeground members should know about her.
Lorrie Maria Vega visual artist: I personally have not work with her but I’ve seen her work. She is an amazing graphic designer and I believe she's a great resource for artists or organizations to use when creating or updating marketing material.
Eileen Riestra: She is a amazing artist and her work is impeccable. Eileen designed a new identity for Veronica Robles Cultural Center that consisted of a logo, banner ad, and Facebook fan page. She immersed herself in the VROCC world and was able to capture the core of our mission and values, which she represented in our logo.
Brady Academy: I had the pleasure of working with this dance company that brought Irish dance to VROCC and I definitely think you should know about them too.
CG: If VROCC could collaborate with any New England creative business, cultural nonprofit, or artist, which/whom would it be and why?
VERONICA: We would like an opportunity to collaborate with Boston Ballet, Berklee College of Music, and Boston Conservatory among other art, music and dance institutions. We would love to create a relationship with these institutions to expand VROCC student opportunities in these fields.
Also, I would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone to be part of VROCC family, especially performers, artists, and organizations because we have a unique place to showcase any kind of cultural art expression. Our space can be rented for music and dance rehearsals, fundraisers, professional development events, and conferences.
CG: How does CreativeGround serve the Veronica Robles Cultural Center?
VERONICA: Since we are new, I'm glad for the opportunity to get the word out about the center and have it listed as part of the East Boston community. Independently, I also have a profile for myself as a Mariachi singer. Being on CreativeGround and fitting particular performing artist criteria makes me eligible to be a NEST artist. This means that New England organizations looking to present performing artists from outside their state can find me and then apply to NEFA for potential funding through their New England States Touring grant program.
CG: Why do you think people should have themselves or their organization listed on CreativeGround?
VERONICA: Whether you’re an artist or organization, I think it is a great platform to showcase your work. And best of all is free. Thank you!
Thank you to Veronica for taking the time to answer some questions about this important cultural institution. Stay tuned for our next "On the CreativeGround" blog and take a look at our previous blogs here.
Top to bottom: Girls Cumbia by Renato Castelo; Arts & Crafts by VROCC; Salsa Dancing by VROCC; Veronica Robles Singing by LTV Productions Corp.