Esperanza's Cultural Continuum

Esperanza Community Housing Corporation

Funding Received: 2012
Los Angeles, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 15, 2012

Mercado La Paloma, an economic development project of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, is a vibrant, dynamic, non-profit community marketplace in South Central Los Angeles that provides space for emerging entrepreneurs specializing in culinary, homemade, handmade and cultural items.

We are establishing Mercado La Paloma as the go-to place to explore and experience the indigenous cultures of the diverse residents of South Los Angeles and their present day manifestations within and outside their countries of origin. We will celebrate a different cultural group every other month, through fixed media exhibits, film screenings, music performances, dance, workshops, cooking classes, tastings and lectures that will make known the deep and rich traditions that form the tapestry of our community.

ArtPlace spoke with Damon Turner, Art & Cultural Programming Coordinator about their ArtPlace project.

ArtPlace: What is the biggest risk you've taken in your efforts?

DAMON: The biggest risk we have taken has been in the launching of the entire concept of our project The Cultural Continuum. Our project is connecting multiple cultures and equitably depicting authentic representations of each culture in a heavily Latino represented space... this is a huge risk. We want to ensure that, throughout this year’s celebration, we appropriately represent each cultural group.

ARTPLACE: How did you get burned, or how did you prevail?

DAMON: I feel we have prevailed in the conceptual planning and event production thus far by strategically partnering with organizations that specialize in curating events with community members of the cultures we are representing. In doing this, a lot of ground-work was already done. We couldn’t imagine having to try and fully develop new relationships with the communities we are trying to represent during our series of programs within the project time frame. It would take much longer and we would need a larger capacity to appropriate connect and cultivate a rich engagement with each community. The connections we have made with partners such as Alliance for Californian Traditional Arts, have given us access to a database of hundreds of performing arts groups that we could work with. This built-in access to artists and cultural connections has helped us prevail and avoid big risks. However, as we move forward with more of our events we will get a better understanding of how well we developed our relationships based on the turnout we see at our upcoming African and Asian inspired events.

PHOTO: Garufina Wanaragua dancing at our holiday celebration at Mercado La Paloma