“It’s getting close; we’re just doing all of the details now,” says Linda Parra, founder and president Nuestra Gente Community Projects and the Barrio Latino Art Festival. August 28, 2016 marks the festival’s fifth year in Toledo, gathering local residents to celebrate Latino cultural diversity through artistic expression.
Parra calls the festival “an opportunity for artists to get the recognition they deserve and the incentive and stimulation to continue doing what they’re doing.” The arts allow space for diversity and inclusion, giving people of all cultures something that is not only pleasing to look at or to listen to, but also promoting pride in and education about different cultures and heritages, messages and movements. Parra wants the festival to bring awareness to the Latino and arts communities, while locally promoting health and well-being, as a fundraiser supporting local organizations.
Growing the voice of the community
Beginning with an open call for artists, and growing through social media, and word of mouth from previous participants, the festival has grown to include over a dozen artists, working in various mediums, who have the opportunity to showcase and sell their work in a large scale event.
“Every artist has their own expression,” says Parra of the eclectic gathering of art available for viewing and purchase. “We have jewelry makers, painters, artists who carve and work with wood, dancers, singers, and poets. Anyone who creates any art has a place at the festival.” No artist or art form is excluded; artists are welcome to display their work free of charge.
“They just come, and set up!” Parra explains. “The festival is growing every year, as the voice of the community grows.”
One local artist is specially recognized for his or her contribution to arts and the community with The Distinguished Artist award, first presented in 2013. “You see awards given in the community all the time for politics, lawyers, and businesses. Why not recognize exceptional artists?” Parra says.
Coming together for a greater cause
The festival is held to help support the combined efforts of Nuestra Gente, The Providence Center, and the Toledo Food Bank. Nuestra Gente is a nonprofit organization in Toledo which serves the Hispanic/Latino community in Northwest Ohio. According to the 2010 census, Lucas County’s Latino population numbers around 28,000.
Nuestra Gente provides several healthcare initiatives, including general screenings, HIV testing, educational sessions on topics including breast cancer, and training for mental health first aid. Adding support for the arts to its educational and preventative services, Nuestra Gente helps to ensure that the Latino community is healthy in mind, body, and creativity.
Barrio Latino Arts Festival
Noon-9pm Sunday, August 28
1205 Broadway St.