Getting to the Heart of Denver: Celebrating the Santa Fe Arts District
A vibrant city needs to meet the health, education, and social service needs of its citizens, and The Denver Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that address all of these issues. In most thriving cities, you’ll also find a vibrant arts community. The Santa Fe Arts District exemplifies that vitality and is made rich by the presence of many nonprofit organizations that are at the heart of Denver’s art community, including El Centro Su Teatro, Chicano Humanities and Arts Council (CHAC), Museo de las Americas, Denver Open Media/Open Media Foundation, Arts Street, and the Center for Visual Arts. Recognizing the importance of the nonprofit artistic community, The Denver Foundation supports all of these organizations with operating grants. In addition, The Denver Foundation received funding from the Kresge Foundation to provide technical assistance grants helping arts and culture organizations build capacity.
Tony Garcia is the Arts Program Director of El Centro Su Teatro, a community-based Latino/Chicano multidisciplinary cultural arts center whose members believe art should be an important part of the daily lives of people in all communities. El Centro produces, promotes, and presents original theater, film, poetry, music, and visual arts that reflect the history and traditions of Latinos and Chicanos in the U.S. Southwest and the Americas. In existence since 1972, El Centro began working out of a space on the Auraria Campus and has only recently made its way “home” to the Santa Fe District within the past year.
“Denver has suffered from an inferiority complex because we are not Los Angeles or New York,” Garcia states. “The Sante Fe Arts District has the potential to be the answer to the question: what is the cultural identity of Denver? The answer: it’s diverse. It embraces a broad variety of things including local and international competing artists. It’s contemporary and traditional. And it is located in the heart of the city, which is why it is not Los Angeles!”
Garcia states that when El Centro moved to Santa Fe, they became a multidisciplinary arts center with theater as the core. “Our focus on building an infrastructure − both financial as well artistic − has allowed us to carry our work forward. Through significant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, El Centro has been able to bring national artists to the district.” El Centro recently held a debut of the Film La Mission, featuring Benjamin Bratt, an event at which they hosted 375 people in their new facility.