History has been made in Dallas for two theater companies. After unanimous approval from a Dallas City Council vote on December 11, Cara Mía Theatre Co. and Teatro Dallas have been granted a 25-year residency at the Latino Cultural Center.
The two Latinx companies will occupy the 296-seat main theater, where both have been previously performing, and a new 125-seat black-box theater that is slated for completion in 2021.
According to Cara Mía's executive artistic director, David Lozano, the vote makes the Latino Cultural Center "the only municipal arts building in the nation that will have two resident Latinx theater companies."
Lozano also said that the "new city partnership will greatly expand the scope and reach of Latinx arts in Dallas."
In the company's upcoming 25th season, he plans to "expand our season of performances, community interactions, and youth programs. Our vision is for Cara Mía to be a national destination for Latinx theater. Cara Mía is now the largest Latinx theater company in Texas and four surrounding states."
Lozano stated in his presentation to the council that Cara Mía tours bilingual children's plays to over 27 ZIP codes in North Texas and serves over 17,000 children per year.
Cara Mía also agreed to pledge $100,000 toward the $500,000 construction cost of the black-box space.
According to the vote, there will be four five-year renewal agreements beginning October 1, 2021, and lasting through September 30, 2026. Each theater company is currently performing at the LCC as part of a temporary arrangement — Cara Mía began in 1996, Teatro Dallas in 1985.
"Adding Cara Mia and Teatro Dallas as residents inside the Latino Cultural Center is a win-win," says Council member David Blewett. "The residency gives them the stability they need to focus on their artistic endeavors and benefits Dallas by activating and providing additional vibrancy to an important city asset."
Teatro Dallas' executive director Sara Cardona pointed out that the residency will help the city's newly formed Cultural Plan by providing more performance space, something that had previously been lacking. As the Latino population continues to grow, this provides stability for companies that are run by and serve people of color.
"The residency of our two theater companies in a municipal building will set Dallas apart as a proactive city modeling best practices in equity, in a time when our country is struggling with issues of representation," she says in a release.
"The Office of Arts & Culture and Latino Cultural Center have received attention from both the City of Phoenix and the City of Houston as they explore opportunities to grow their Latinx arts and culture organizations, so Dallas is setting a national standard for Latinx theater," says Latino Cultural Center manager Benjamin Espino.
In a Facebook message posted this morning, Lozano thanked original Cara Mía co-founder Eliberto Gonzalez and Teatro Dallas co-founder Cora Cardona.
"[Gonzalez] never gave up on his dream, even when it seemed the doors would close. It is because of Eli and Cora Cardona that I even know who I am, where I come from, and what it means to be a Latino artist in the South. Those two marched against all odds for decades until their feet were raw. So how could I ever stop ? Because I could never look into the eyes young aspiring Latino artists if I wasn't committed to breaking down barriers for them like Eli and Cora did for me and like they did for thousands of others over the course their long careers. It is because of those two I am here. The 25-year residency for Cara Mía Theatre and Teatro Dallas at the Latino Cultural Center is a historical feat. It takes a village. This took a movement and I believe we've started one. Let's keep going because there is more work to do. Adelante Dallas!"
You can see a recording of Lozano's presentation and the historic vote below: