By Karen Cortés
This week, David Greco, co-founder and executive director of Arte Inc., and his team are celebrating a new record. The New Haven-based grassroots organization dedicated to promoting Latin art, culture and talent hosted 447 kids and adults who participated in Arte’s Family Arts & Science Workshop, presented as part of the group’s ongoing Hispanic Heritage Celebration.
Greco and Arte board chair Daniel Diaz established Arte Inc. in 2004. Longtime Connecticut arts patrons, Greco and Diaz noted the lack of Latinos and African Americans joining them at local theater productions, art exhibits and other cultural events. “Daniel and I served on many boards together, and we are friends with many artists. We grew more and more frustrated, and decided to do something about it,” says Greco. That something became Arte Inc.
At its inception, Arte was primarily an arts organization, though over time, as the disparity in college readiness between young Latinos and their non-Latino counterparts became increasingly apparent, and the organization changed its mission to Art, Culture and Education. In the last year, Arte has served an estimated 4300 members of the community through free events and programs held throughout Greater New Haven.
Greco is especially enthusiastic about Arte’s SLATE (Socialization and Learning Adventures Through Education) program, an intensive two-year program that exposes urban youth to new environments, experiences, and ideas– all with a goal getting kids to college.
“SLATE teaches middle school kids life and social skills like health, wellness, cooking, and job preparation skills, and takes them on excursions to college campuses. Parents learn about college applications and financial aid. The perception is that they can’t afford college. We need to get them past that. We need to get them to think big,” says Greco.
“On the bus to campus, we’ll ask students how many want to got to college. About a third will raise their hands. Throughout course of day, they’ll tour a college campus, learn about programs, and meet Latino college students. By end of they day, they all want to go,” says Greco.
True to its roots, Arte Inc. offers scholarships for Latino students studying the arts. Since 2004, Arte has awarded more than $47,000 for everything from musical instrument repair, to art supplies, to lessons.
What’s next? A little bit of fun to keep that scholarship fund strong. On Oct. 25, Arte Inc. sponsors Flamenco, Tapas and Sangria, at Manjares in New Haven. The fundraising event featureslive Flamenco music performed by Val Ramos. For ticket information, visit www.arte-inc.com or call 203) 469-4536.
By Karen Cortés