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Guadalupe's New Executive Director: Building On Its History And Strong Foundation

Rosie Sanchez
Cristina Balli

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has named its new executive director. Her name is Cristina Balli, and it's not her first time to live in San Antonio.

"I was here in the early '90s as a student at Our Lady of the Lake University," she says.

Balli says that though she hadn't found her way into the full-time arts field yet, even then she looked up to the Guadalupe.

"It has always performed as one of the leaders in Chicano, Latino and Native American arts programming in the country," Balli says.

She considered what she saw at the Guadalupe a good map for some of what she accomplished in the Rio Grande Valley as the director of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center in San Benito.

"And that place was modeled after this one. So, it's always been a model for me; the Guadalupe has always been that. And it's always been a leader in cultural arts programming," she says.

There, she also opened the Conjunto Hall of Fame and the Freddy Fender Museum. With 20 years of nonprofit work, her most recent job was heading Texas Folklife in Austin. She says that with a strong staff and arts programs already in place at the Guadalupe, she will focus her attention on repairing the facilities and fundraising.

"We have several buildings on this block that are in need of renovations. Our theater can certainly be used for a lot more," she says.

Balli invites those who have never been there to investigate what the Guadalupe presents.

"We're offering many interesting new things--classes on Ballet Folklorico, Mariachi, for children, and adults. Classes on visual arts as well, and writing--creative writing. So there's something for everybody," she says.

Find more on the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center here

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii