allies arts
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El Centro Su Teatro is a multi-disciplinary cultural arts center that serves Denver's Latino communities.

We must engage the larger community of advocates who are passionate about and promote the arts and culture, and who also understand the importance of inclusion.”

- Tony Garcia

Allies in the Arts

Exposure to the arts is as vital to our society’s outlook on people and life’s possibilities as it is to our personal sense of cultivation and well-being. In Denver and Colorado Springs, a theater company and a music school are on a mission to incorporate the richness of the arts into people’s lives in ways that truly reflect our society’s diversity. Their work exemplifies the importance of working with allies in the arts.

At El Centro Su Teatro, a multi-disciplinary cultural arts center that serves Denver’s Latino communities, creating an inclusive environment is integral to the organization’s philosophy. Translated literally, “su teatro” means “your theater.” Su Teatro openly embraces all audiences and offers events representing Chicano, Cuban, South American, Spanish, and Dominican heritages.

Tony Garcia, Su Teatro’s founder, says he made a choice a long time ago to advance equality by taking an active stand on the inclusion of gay men and lesbians. “I want to let gay men and lesbians know they are welcome here, and I want to raise the question on stage,” he said. “I also want the straight community to know we accept and protect all patrons of Su Teatro.” The center’s publicity materials for its music and dance festivals, for instance, make it clear these are gay-friendly events.

The Colorado Springs Conservatory is a school that helps young people explore their musical talents in a nurturing environment - it inspires kids from culturally, economically, and socially diverse backgrounds to immerse themselves in the arts. Some of its students are LGBT students. Founder Linda Weise says her school has an overall commitment to inclusion because it’s simply the right thing to do. The school has a goal of presenting a broad scope of life skills so that kids develop into confident, goal-driven young adults.

“The conservatory is a safe haven for the kids who find it. This is certainly a place where they will thrive without any interference from peers or adults,” she says. “We have an opportunity to play a positive part in these kids’ lives, and to share that outcome with the community.”

Weise is eager to impart her views with other people she meets. “There are perhaps folks out there who aren’t as accepting of all kids. So we are always anxious to let more people know that if, in their travels they come across kids who are seeking this kind of education, the conservatory is here.”

The values of the Gay & Lesbian Fund align with the values of both these organizations. Its financial gifts allow Su Teatro to serve up strong music, poetry, film, visual, and performing arts to a diverse cross-section of the community, and the conservatory to teach well-balanced perspectives to young people hungry for an education emphasizing the arts.

“We must engage the larger community of advocates who are passionate about and promote the arts and culture, and who also understand the importance of inclusion,” says Garcia.