When I helped name and establish CubaCaribe in 2003 there was no way of knowing our work would gain so much strength and relevance over the years. What started as a few people’s ideas (in the kitchen, literally) and passion has transformed into communal enthusiasm. There is no doubt in my mind that dance and music are a way of survival for many, survival of tradition, culture, rhythm, movement, religion, creativity and identity. A way to sustain one’s self and family, a way to communally gather, be a part of something larger than ourselves and share, a way to express emotional and physical struggles and joys. CubaCaribe recognizes this and holds these principles sacred to its mission.
In fact, we’ve already made incredible strides over the past twelve years. CubaCaribe works with a diverse range of artists and has won a variety of support from individuals, press and funders in the Bay Area. We are committed to our mission of preserving, promoting and presenting the vibrant cultural and artistic traditions of the Caribbean and its Diaspora.
CubaCaribe is at a pivotal point as a small, vital and expanding arts organization. We struggle with being artists ourselves and learning what it takes to manage a nonprofit, especially the lack of paid staff, creating budgets, writing grants, and more. With that said, we have no end to our programming dreams and goals. With the help and funding from cultural equity grants and individual donors we have recently gained our own 501(c)3 status making CubaCaribe a lasting and vibrant arts organization to the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, we cannot carry out our plan without community involvement.
Community is at the heart of our mission and vision. The four communities that define and sustain CubaCaribe are audiences, volunteers, donors, and artists. (CubaCaribe prides itself on the diversity of its audiences and the sense of community the Festival and other CubaCaribe programs engender. Volunteers are, and always have been, the life-blood of CubaCaribe and we are lucky to have wonderful volunteers and community supporters and continue to foster relationships with both old and new ones. CubaCaribe attracts master and emerging artists of the highest caliber from Cuba, Haiti, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Peru and the continental United States – we are building and supporting a thriving community of artists in the Bay Area and have been applauded for encouraging artists who have recently immigrated to the United States to present their work). The artists are who make the annual festival and other programming possible and special to our community.
We are fortunate that the political climate around Cuba in particular is changing incredibly and the relationship between countries through artists is flourishing. The need for a strong Caribbean cultural organization has never been higher, nor the window of opportunity wider. With your help, I’m confident that together we can make CubaCaribe and the Bay Area a center of collaboration and creativity.