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May 18, 2024 14 mins
Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, a community organization in Boston's South End that has been supporting Latinx residents for decades, is about to break ground on its new home: La CASA, a new arts and culture center that hopes to amplify voices and ideas not just in Boston, but also serve as a space to bring New England's Latinx communities together. IBA CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado stops by the show this week to talk with Nichole about their mission, plans for construction, and the work IBA is doing to help protect and uplift Boston's Latinx residents.
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Episode Transcript

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From WBZ News Radio in Boston.This is New England Weekend. Each and
every week we come together right herewe talk about all the topics important to
you and the place where you live. It is so good to be back
with you again this week. I'mNicole Davis. Boston's Latino community has deep
roots and cultures from all over theworld. Almost twenty percent of Bostonians identify

as part of this community, andsoon a brand new center called La Casa
is going up in the South Endto help celebrate that heritage. This is
a groundbreaking project from Inky Linos BarriquasAnaxion. It's a community group that's advocated
for Boston's Latino residents for decades fromthe South End. The new arts center
hopes to be a beacon of communityand creativity, amplifying voices and ideas not

just here in Boston, but allover New England. Let's learn about it
now, Ebud CEO, Doctor VanessaCaldroom Rosato, thank you so much for
being here with us on the show. Now, before we talk about the
center, I want to learn moreabout your mission and history. Tell us
a bit about that. Sure,so iba iba or in quillinos, but
it was an accion was founded innineteen sixty eight by a group of puer

Rican activists that basically stopped the city'sbulldozers that were threatening to displacing them from
the neighborhood that they lived, thepart of the neighborhood that they lived here
in the South End. So thatgroup of Amerrican activists obviously hence our name

Bodigueas, which is an endearment termper Ricans in Spanish. Hence our name.
But that group of Amerrican activists hada vision that EVA would be the
organization that would help lead the revitalizationof the neighborhood, that will create affordable

housing, that would develop other communityprograms to support the families that lived in
the neighborhood. So if we fastforward today, fifty six years later,
we continue with addition and mission fromour founders, EVA is a nationally recognized
community development corporation that supports families andindividuals and empowers them through high quality,

affordable housing and a number of communityprograms including early education, youth development,
financial empowerment, residence services, andthe arts. The arts, to answer
your question, were very important fromthe beginning for our founders and today for
us because we have seen the artsfor over five decades not only as a

way to celebrate our culture, ourhistory, our heritage, our roots,
but also as a very important vehicleto build community, to build safe communities,
healthy communities, driving communities, vibrantcommunities, communities that invite others to
learn from. So we are veryunique in that sense for our community and

about corporation. Sure, we'll talka bit more about the arts in a
moment, but I did want totalk with you quickly about you know,
inflation is very high right now,and a lot of people are struggling the
cost of housing in Boston, especiallythe South End and many other neighborhoods.
It's astronomical at this point. Whatis IBA doing to help the Latin community
in the South End and around thecity of Boston. Absolutely, you are

so right, Nicole, and Ithink that that's part we do work in
those areas. That work is workthat our founders had a vision for.
So we see our work and ourmission to help people to move through the

socio economic mobility right, to finda path for socio economic mobility. So
all of our programs have a componentto help families do that. But specifically,
we have the Financial Enviownerment Program thatsupports families with financial education, financial
financial coaching, helping families create financialgoals and then meet them where they are

and create a path to you know, self sufficiency and socio economic mobility.
So from being banked, you know, opening bank accounts, creating budgets,
reducing that to create building credit,right so they can build assets and they
can have savings to work to furthertheir education or their education of their children,

or even to become homeowners. Wedo have a program that we have
launched this year within the Financial EmpowermentProgram to help residents that are ready become
homeowners because we know that's the premierway in the U. With that families
have to build assets and to buildintergenerational wealth. So we're looking just recently

there was all that show that Latinosare lagging behind every other racial and ethnic
group on home ownership. So wewant to change that. We want to
make sure we open those opportunities forour families. Thirty three million dollars is
going into this new project called LaCASA stands for the Center for Art Self

Determination and Activism. Certainly no smallfeat here, When did EBA determine that
this was something they really wanted tothrow their energy behind because obviously you support
the arts overall. But what aboutthe center. Yes, well, we
have been doing arts in community artsprogramming for over five decades now, and

we did have back in the eighties, EVA acquired a space, a community
space that was turned into a communityart space. That space unfortunately had to
close down back in twenty nineteen,but we were committed to replace that space

with a new, more modern,vibrant, flexible art space, but then
the pandemic hits, so it tookus a little bit of you know,
extra year or two, and forthe past two and a half years,
we've been diligently working with the city, with the community, with our neighbors
to create the kind of mission forthis space that we want not only for

our community, the Latino Committee andthe South End, but also for Boston
and the New England region because wewill be the largest Latin X arts space
in New England, so we're veryproud of that. We believe that this
space will help us continue to expandour arts programming, but also bring other

arts producers and promoters to use ourspace. Affordable rehearsal space for them as
well and to create cross cultural collaborations. But we will continue with our mission
to promote and produce Latino arts andpromote Latino artists. Yeah, this is
right in the heart of the SouthEnd. I looked up the address.

It's right on West Newton Street.So space is a little cramped there already,
but the construction is underway. Areyou getting support from the city to
get this done or other groups inBoston? Yeah, Well, the building,
as you mentioned earlier, the costof the building is at thirty three
million. So we have put togethera financing ways to take a new market

text credits on financing, and thena capital campaign. So our capital campaign
has a goal of ten million andgrowing because the more we can raise buildings
we have to borrow. But weare very We're thrilled with the support of
many institutions and individuals to the campaign. We're looking for additional donors and people

to really see this wonderful vision becausewe started fifty years ago. Our vision
with this space is that will bethere more than fifty years from now,
so it will continue this tradition ofempowering families, of creating community spaces that
come together through the arts and alsocommunity spaces. This LAGASA will also be

the HUBE for all of the USprograms, which then will allow us for
the building that we're in right now, we turned into affordable housing units to
add to our portfolio. So it'sreally an amazing vision and legacy that everyone
who's involved right now is leaving behindfor generations to come. And we're very

excited about that. You were talkingabout too just a second ago. The
regional impact that you want to haveNew England's largest LATINX arts center, that's
no small thing as well, youknow, and Massachusetts as a whole.
I believe even parts of Connecticut andRhode Island, parts of New Hampshire have
very strong Latino culture. And areyou getting any support any is anybody reaching

out from those other parts of thestate ors it's mostly a Boston thing.
Well, right now, are programmingsince we don't have a dedicated space,
since you know, back in twentynineteen, our has been reduced significantly.
We still do arts events throughout theyear, but it has been reduced.
When pla Casa opens that we're allowedto again brank up our programming and we

know that we will be able toattract people from more parts of New England
and or parts of Massachusetts, likewe still do with for example, Festival
Pass in the summer. We havepeople coming from out of state and people
obviously coming from different parts of Massachusetts. But like you alluded to, no
work, no good work can bedone alone, right, Yes, so

creating partnerships with other groups and otherarts groups across the state and across the
region will be critical. We dohave partnerships already even without having La GASA
ready, sure, partnerships with organizationsin Holyoke, in Philadelphia, even in
Chicago, and definitely in Connecticut andRhode Island, so en Vermont. So

we will look to continue to fostersome partnerships and see how we can benefit
from each other. But as weknow, Latinos are the fastest growing group
in Massachusetts, in the country,but certainly in Massachusetts. So just in
Massachusetts alone, la GASA will youfill that void for Latino arts and cultural

programming. Well, the groundbreaking iscoming up in a few days. So
what's the timeline looking like for gettingLACASA open and read to take in everybody
who wants to come. Yes,So, the according to construction schedule.
We'll see how all that goes.But they are out nineteen months from opening
La Gasa, okay, So I'mhoping that we will be able to stick

to that schedule, that there willbe no major snowstars in the winter,
even in the summer. But realisticallyit would be anywhere between nineteen to twenty
four months. So we hope thatby the end of twenty twenty five or
the spring of twenty twenty six,well we will be able to welcome you,
your audience and everyone around the cityand the state to La Casa.

It sounds like a long time andit's really not. I mean, if
COVID flew the way it did,this is going to be a breeze.
So the big thing I think issupport. How can people support you?
This is going to be a bigundertaking. Where can they find out more
about La Casa? Where can theyget you the support you're going to need.
Absolutely, so if they want tosupport La Casa, they We have

a really nice web page within theEVA page where people will be able to
see a video explaining what Na Casais, renderings of the exterior and terior
of the buildings, so that willbe able to see how beautiful the design
is and how it integrates so well. It's modern design, but it brings

together elements of the Latino Caribbean culturewith the architecture of the South End.
So I invite everyone to go toEvaboston dot org and go to La Gasa
campaign page because there that will beable to see how beautiful the building will
be and how transparent will be toOne of our visions in the design was

that the building that is adjacent toa public playground, a municipal playground,
would have glass doors that would openso the perform Farman's Arts Space can open
to the park if we want towant to have indoor our door events simultaneously.
So it's really beautiful design. It'sLEADS certified. We are committed to

have a building that is climate resilientand that is sustainable for generations to come.
So we're very excited about that.So I invite all of your audience
members to go to IBA Boston dotorg and go to La Gasa campaign page
within our website to see learn moreand there's a way to donate through that

page, or they can contact meif they want to come for a visit.
We'll be happy to do that aswell. Phenomenal well, Doctor Vanessa
Calderone Rosato, thank you so muchfor your time and congratulations on the groundbreaking
of your new center and I can'twait to see it when it's all said
and done. Wonderful. Thank youso much, very much appreciate it.

Okay, that's the end of theshow for the week. Thanks again so
much for tuning in. As always, I hope you have a safe and
healthy weekend. Please join me againnext week for another edition of the show.
I'm Nicole Davis from WBZ News Radioon iHeartRadio.
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