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Fronteras: 'Cultural New Deal' Calls For Racial Justice And A Cultural Recovery From The Pandemic

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Roberta Uno, director of ArtChangeUS, and María López De León, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, helped co-author the Cultural New Deal. | Credit: Aydinaneth Ortiz & Luis M. Garza
Aydinaneth Ortiz & Luis M. Garza
Roberta Uno, director of ArtChangeUS, and María López De León, president and CEO of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, helped co-author the Cultural New Deal.

Arts and culture have taken a serious blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many cities have slashed the sector’s budgets to pursue a path to economic recovery.

A coalition of arts organizations is using this moment to address not just recovery from the pandemic, but recovery from the systemic racism that has bruised the souls of the nation’s communities of color.

The Cultural New Deal was spearheaded by ArtChangeUS, the Center for Cultural Power, the First Peoples Fund, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), Race Forward, and Sipp Culture.

Cultural New Deal

“We feel that especially in this moment of racial injustice, COVID, economic crisis, and the environmental crisis,” Roberta Uno — director of ArtChangeUS — explained, “that artists and cultural bearers have always had a special role to play in the healing of our communities and our societies.”

Uno is a co-author of the Cultural New Deal, along with María López De León, president and CEO of NALAC. The effort outlines five demands that call for an end to racial and cultural inequity and injustice.

That includes reversing inequities in funding, hiring, and resources in the arts and culture sector; and more investments to protect and sustain arts and cultural spaces for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.

“Arts and culture, they are what make us human,” said De León. “And the right to practice your culture is a human right and it's something that everybody needs.”

De León and other members behind the Cultural New Deal believe the health and wellness of a community depends upon strong cultural institutions and strong local cultural economies. The coalition aims to fight for cultural justice, which they define as the “healing of the erasure, suppression, and marginalization of people’s artistic and cultural practices.”

Read the Cultural New Deal below:

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren