By Cristina Vázquez
Inclusion is vital to reach the new normal, particularly if it is conceived as a necessary evolution against the ravages of the coronavirus, both in the artistic world and in life itself.
A reminder of the importance of being inclusive was, without a doubt, the death of the African-American George Floyd that occurred May 25, due to police brutality in Minneapolis. Floyd ́s death energize the Black Lives Matter movement, sparking great protests against racial injustice in the United States and internationally.
The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community, which groups blacks, indigenous people and people of color (Latinos, Asians and the population of the Middle East, among others), called for action on June 8 for people to make demands directed at the whitheness in American theater. Their intention, stated on the We See You website is to create a new social contract to improve working conditions through an anti-racist and safe environment for producers, leaders, council members, artists, the creative teams and the BIPOC staff working on and off Broadway.
The demands also contemplate more inclusive audiences and changes in the content of the stories that are told on stage. Theaters in the United States, mostly feed their programming with white artists, and struggling BIPOCs are hired, from time to time, to justify the demands of a diverse project.
We See You urges white theaters to strive to fund BIPOC proposals, rather than forces them seek their own sources of financial support. They request the training of critics capable of analyzing these different proposals. The academy is required to go beyond the prevailing aesthetics, and they are asked to commit to a kind of teaching free of stereotypes.
In the words from We See You states: we form a multidisciplinary and
multigenerational collective willing to discuss how racism and white supremacy have shaped and corrupted theatrical institutions in the United States by demanding a more equitable and safe space for the BIPOC community.
Racial marginalization is not limited to theater. It is also experienced in opera, as reported in the article Opera Can No Longer Ignore Its Race Problem, published by The New York Times and written by Joshua Barone on July 16, 2020. The author acknowledges that while singers of color have positioned themselves internationally, off-stage leadership positions are filled by whites (the conductor, stage director, as well as company managers and CEOs, among others). The Metropolitan Opera House, the quintessential operatic house, in its 137 years of existence, notes Barone, has not staged a single work by a black composer.
Racial inequality prevails in other arts because official history has relegated the contributions of Afro-descendants and Latinos or Latinxs, a term that transcends the masculine and feminine genres with which reference is made to Latin Americans who were born here or other countries and live in the United States.
Gender inequality In Mexico and Latin America, unlike what happens in the US, the lack of inclusion in the art world is more marked among women, indigenous people and the LGBTTTIQ community. That is, among cultural minorities are groups of individuals that, they are for a historical are currently in a disadvantaged condition within society, according to the definition of the expert Paolo Comanducci.
COVID-19 has made gender inequality visible. Notorious examples are the webinars of the Ibero-American regions in which I have participated.
Even the talks on culture do not have a balanced reflection, because the male presence predominates, as occurred on Thursday, May 21, 2020, when celebrating the Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development by the Organization of Iberoamerican States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI).
In the virtual conversation promoted by the OEI, with specialists «of the highest level in the region», among the six panelists there was only one woman: Adriana Moscoso del Prado, Director General of Cultural Industries, Intellectual Property and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Sport from Spain.
The lack of gender parity was also evident at the inaugural conference of the MUdaL forum (Music & Digital Transformation in Ibero-America), which was held virtually on July 16. All of the speakers were men: Paul Brindley (Music Ally), Octavio Arbeláez (Circulart-Mapas), Sergio Arbeláez (FIMPRO), Igor Lozada (Cultura UDG) and Enrique Vargas (SEGIB). I wonder: is there not a single woman in the teams of these participating institutions?
The inclusion and the guiding principle of the Mexican Federal Government that dictates «leave no one behind, leave no one out» is the basis of the Culture Sector Program 2020-2024, published on July 3 in the Official Gazette of the Federation, and derived from the National Development Plan from the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The truth is that this guide to public policies in the culture sector, which talks about guaranteeing equal access to culture for all people, prioritizing historically excluded groups, ends up being, as several specialists have said, including Ishtar Cardona, a document full of good intentions, but no actions.
Cardona reached that conclusion at the analysis table promoted by the NGO Cultural Interactivity and Development, which was broadcast live on July 8, 2020, and where she was the only woman who participated alongside Carlos Villaseñor, Ernesto Piedras and Carlos Lara.
Although the pandemic has involved the closure of spaces and the cancellation of artistic activities, it should not be forgotten that it offers the historic opportunity to rethink the agenda for a more flexible and creative points of view; to reform culture by prioritizing inclusion in actual practice, going beyond the only speech.
Cristina Vázquez, director of Contenidos Artísticos Production and Diffusion, is a cultural manager, programmer and producer. One of her main purposes is to promote the circulation of the Performing Arts.
Mexican, from the city of León, she graduated from the Communication Sciences career and continued her training as a cultural manager with studies from the National Council for Culture and the Arts and in 17, the Institute of Critical Studies, where she obtained the Cultural Management Certificate from the Critical Entrepreneurship.
Cristina Vázquez has the strong conviction that going to meet new viewers, both in Mexico and in the United States and other countries, contributes to fighting stereotypes, opening new communication channels and forming communities.
Her quest is to create lasting relationships between audiences, artists and institutions. The expansion of audiences, she thinks, generates knowledge and understanding among the inhabitants of this global village.
In 2012 she founded Contenidos Artísticos, a firm dedicated to the programming, production and dissemination of artistic and cultural projects, based in Mexico, which is complemented, since 2015, with Contenidos Artísticos INC, based in Chicago, Illinois.
With the multidisciplinary collaboration of important allies, Cristina Vázquez advised the Municipality of Zacatecas in the elaboration of its Cultural Development Plan and coordinated the National Book Fair (Fenal) from 2006 to 2009. Since 2016, she has been collaborating permanently with the Cultural Institute of León in various programming and production projects.
She was a programmer at the Teatro del Bicentenario in León, has worked with the Teatro Juárez in Guanajuato and developed and operated the urban meeting “Todo sobre Ruelas” in Zacatecas.
In addition, in 2012 and 2013 she produced and programmed the José Alfredo Jiménez International Festival, which pays tribute to the great Mexican icon and singer-songwriter, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato.
Since 2013 she works for the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature (INBAL). She has produced and coordinated important projects with the Mexican National Ballet Company having as headquarters the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Juárez Theater, during the Cervantino Festival, as well as with the National Opera Company and the National Theater Coordination. In 2019, she began a collaboration with the National Center for the Arts (CENART) by producing the International Black and White Piano Festival.
In 2018, she made alliances with agencies in the United States for the circulation of the performing arts in Mexico. This is how she presented Fuse, a group based in Italy, with its multimedia performance Dökk and the Colombian company Sankofa Danzafro with its acclaimed show La ciudad de los otros.
Through Contenidos Artísticos INC, the production agency, for the past five years she has focused on bicultural work between Mexico and the United States. Her work has been to find spaces for Mexican artists to present themselves on the other side of the border, while contributing to the construction of an image of Mexican culture and art that transcends the folkloric.
In 2017 she introduced the Mexican poet Rojo Córdoba, who worked with Spoken Word groups, in Chicago. And the following year she promoted three Mexican bands: Troker, electronic jazz; Doble Redoble, contemporary cumbia, and Sonido Gallo Negro, a psychedelic cumbia group for which she organized a tour in the United States. This in conjunction with various Latino festivals and organizations in Chicago, such as the Mole de Mayo Festival. Thanks to these alliances, she has produced tours for artists from Chicago and other cities in the United States in Mexico.
During November 2018, she invited Mexican programmers to see, both in Chicago and New York, the work of Manual Cinema, a multidisciplinary company that combines cinematographic techniques with shadow theater, sound and music to create immersive experiences.
She co-produces the Tania Pérez-Salas Company since 2018. During 2019 she worked on the organization of their tour through Mexico, the United States and Canada, which would take place in the following year.
As of January 20, 2020, Vázquez is the first Mexican woman to be part of the Board of Directors of the Association of Professionals for the Performing Arts (APAP), which emerged in 1957 in the United States and is a world leader in this cultural field. One of their main tasks is to participate and promote REDI (Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion) policies.
The great pragmatism and permanent professionalism of Cristina Vázquez has allowed her to contribute to the artistic and cultural development of Mexico and its international projection.
Versión en español
Cristina Vázquez, directora de Contenidos Artísticos Producción y Difusión, es gestora cultural, programadora y productora. Uno de sus propósitos principales es fomentar la interculturalidad a través de la circulación de las artes.
Concibe la interculturalidad como el encuentro, la interacción y reconstrucción de las distintas culturas locales. En palabras del experto argentino Carlos Moneta, permite comparar formas de vida y establecer comunicaciones portadoras de imágenes, valores y contenidos que afectan las identidades más allá de la nacionalidad.
En 2012 fundó Contenidos Artísticos, firma dedicada a la programación, producción y difusión de proyectos artísticos y culturales, con sede en México, que se complementa, desde 2015, con Contenidos Artísticos INC, con sede en Chicago, Illinois.
A través de Contenidos Artísticos INC, la agencia productora, se ha enfocado desde hace un lustro en el trabajo bicultural entre México y Estados Unidos. Su labor ha sido la de buscar espacios para que los artistas mexicanos se presenten del otro lado de la frontera, aportando a la vez la construcción de una imagen de la cultura y el arte mexicano que trasciende lo folclórico.
Esa apertura de espacios permite visualizar, en ambos países, que las artes escénicas son una herramienta indispensable para construir un intercambio artístico de calidad permanente y atender a la diversidad de públicos.
Originaria de León, Guanajuato, Vázquez es egresada de la carrera de Ciencias de la Comunicación y
continuó su formación como gestora cultural con 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos.
El gran pragmatismo y la permanente profesionalización de Cristina Vázquez le han permitido coadyuvar
al desarrollo artístico y cultural de México y su proyección a nivel internacional.
A partir del 20 de enero de 2020, Vázquez es la primera mujer mexicana en formar parte del Consejo Directivo de la Asociación de Profesionales de las Artes Escénicas (APAP por sus siglas en inglés), surgida en 1957 en Estados Unidos y líder a nivel mundial en este ámbito cultural.
Recientemente organizó la gira de la Compañía Tania Pérez-Salas por México, Estados Unidos y Canadá, pero debido a la pandemia derivada del coronavirus el grupo de danza contemporánea únicamente alcanzó a dar un par de funciones, el 13 y 14 de marzo, en el Teatro Juárez de Guanajuato con el apoyo de EFIDANZA.