Tamara Alvarado-Empowering the Local Community through Cultura


TamaraMainby Laura Posadas

After working close with people within her community promoting the values of culture and art with focus on the community’s youth, Tamara Alvarado just celebrated the 3rd Anniversary for the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.

The organization’s executive director had to go through many obstacles by the city and people’s past perceptions to drive the vision that runs the place forward to create a place that is centered on education, entertainment and the arts.

“How can we as a community start to define the value of the arts? I think that this place is one of those places where you walk in an immediately know yea you know what having an artistic life in our community is important to have that part, the part of creating, of seeing, and experiencing,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado has a strong belief that the arts within a community can help community members transform.

“To me art is about transcendence. It’s about how we transcend from our day-to-day and really experience the things that help define us as a community.”

Under city’s direction three years ago, the place used to bring 24,000 people a year in attendance, currently, the School of Arts and Culture averages 60,000. The school almost tripled their attendance in a few short years.

“I’m really thinking about well what do the next three years look like here at the School of Arts and Culture while working with the board and the staff and to know what is the next level”.

The school has become a sustainable place for the community however, Alvarado still faces challenges running the school due to community member’s perceptions and lack of knowledge of the space.

“When I’m out there talking about what we are doing, it’s tough when people haven’t been here or have preconceived notions where they’re like ‘oh that place’. Then I invite them to come over to see what’s happening here and we change their minds,” Alvarado said. “We are changing hearts and minds.”

Alvarado is a busy woman making the school the success it is by changing minds but Alvarado comments that one of her greatest accomplishments in her career is co-creating the Multi Cultural Arts Leadership Institute program (MALI).

“It’s one of the programs her the School of Arts and culture that was one of those things that sometimes you take a risk on something and you really don’t know if it’s going to work or not. Sometimes when it works you feel really good.”

The MALI program helps people of color and distinct minds harvest leadership skills and develop a training program that will provide these individuals with the necessary knowledge to grow their business.

“There is opportunities for leadership in different ways. Not just in elective but multiple opportunities. We have to step up and step in to contribute. We have a unique perspective that is really valuable,” Alvarado said. “Let’s continue to push ourselves.”

Currently, the School of Culture and Arts at MHP have a great selection of classes offered throughout the year such as hip hop dance for kids, mariachi music, guitar lessons, Aztec warrior culture, drawing, ballet folklorico and much more.

To see more information about classes, programs, and events at the School of Culture and Arts at MHP visit  http://schoolofartsandculture.org/