Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta en la Plaza

Photo: Agora Cultural Architects

Each weekend from Sept. 17 to Oct. 14, Fiesta en la Plaza — an event for Hispanic Heritage Month, which was funded by the City of Boston for the first time this year — dozens of attendees were brought together for a celebration of the art, culture and music of the Latin community.

“I feel it’s important to have these events open to everyone,” said Elsa Mosquera, the founder and director of Ágora Cultural Architects. “Learn about our culture, learn about the artists, learn about the magnificent artistry that we have among our people.” 

Ágora partnered with the City of Boston to create the month-long series at Civic Pavillion in City Hall Plaza at 1 City Hall Square. Some artists included writers, musicians and filmmakers such as Jorge Arce, Agua, Sol y Sereno, Eguie Castrillo, Veronica Robles and Claudio Ragazzi, among others. Through sharing their work, these creators expose the city of Boston to Latin artists. 

The kickoff to the series was on Sept. 17 in City Hall Plaza, the Welcome Fiesta began with a colorful “comparsa,” or a walk-through with music containing stilt walkers and head puppets. The lively fiesta was filled with attendees singing and dancing while listening to live performances from Latin artists and bands. 

Cuatro & Poetry, the second event in the series offered attendees the opportunity to discover the work of Latin writers, poets and Afro-Antillean rhythms. The two-hour event introduced a musical performance by singer Fabiola Méndez, a reading from author Yara Liceaga and cuatro performances played with the national instrument of Puerto Rico.  

The following night was Salsa Night, which was a fun-filled musical extravaganza where attendees could learn to salsa dance. The doors to City Hall Plaza were wide open for the city to hear the rhythms of Clave & Blues and other musical guests. 

Over the next weekend, Ágora partnered with Cinefest Latino Boston to showcase a series of shorts and two movies from various Latin American countries, including ‘Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires,’ directed by Alison Murray. 

The series concluded with a panel of five artists discussing the career opportunities for the Afro-Latin community in Boston. Due to a personal issue, journalist Cristela Guerra, who was slated to lead the panel, could not attend. Beginning at 2 p.m., the discussion held in her absence still highlighted how intersectionality inhibits these artists as they feel held back because of their multifaceted identities as Latinx and African American. An energetic musical closing with Venezuelan harpist Eduardo Betancourt followed the panel. 

A woman in a black blazer speaks into a microphone in front of a TV screen.
Celina Miranda, executive director of Hyde Square Task Force, spoke to attendees at Fiesta en la Plaza’s closing event at City Hall Plaza on Oct. 14. At the event, Miranda launched a new directory to help support artists of Afro-Latin descent. | Photo from Agora Cultural Architects

Kristel Francis, a student at UMass Boston who attended the panel, said it was “a great opportunity to understand what it means to be Afro-Latinx. It’s an ongoing conversation that we can continue having in the community.” 

This was a prevalent theme in the panel’s discussion, especially concerning the increased barriers diverse artists face in their work.

“There’s so much talent out there that is crying to be recognized,” said speaker Rosario Ubiera on the panel stage. At the Closing Fiesta, Celina Miranda, executive director of Hyde Square Task Force, the organization managing projects in Boston’s Latin Quarter, announced Boston’s Afro-Latinx Artists Network (BALAN).  

Launched in October, the initiative includes a directory of Afro-Latinx artists working in Boston, a tool that Miranda hopes will promote career development, provide encouragement and increase audiences for these creatives. 

“There are samples of their work and the handles of their social media, said Mosquera, who worked with Hyde Square Task Force to create the BALAN.“ I think it’s going to be a great platform for these artists and to give them more visibility.”                                  

The overall goal of Fiesta en la Plaza’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is to make Latinx artists visible year-round. Providing a platform for these artists to promote their work and be found is a vital step toward achieving that mission. With the success of this year’s celebration behind them, Ágora hopes to keep up the momentum and looks forward to hosting more festivities next year. 

“I think [Fiesta en la Plaza] has been a great experience. Both by the city and for us and for the public in general,” said Mosquera. “I hope that we can continue doing it from this year on, and you know, keep being in the minds of our fellow Bostonians to celebrate our heritage and our culture.”


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