Cinco de Mayo a good reason to learn about Latino culture

See the exhibit, “Masked: Changing Identities” at the Mexic-Arte Museum through May 25.

Cinco de Mayo in Mexico is just like every other day. Yes, it commemorates the Battle of Puebla, a scuffle against the French where Mexico came out on top. But Mexicans don’t really consider this worth a holiday.

Not like we do! Austinites love a reason to celebrate Mexican-American culture, and Cinco de Mayo is the perfect excuse. But before you’re downing margaritas at Chuy’s on May 5, consider taking time to learn a bit about the nonprofits in Austin that celebrate and preserve Mexican-American and Latino culture.

“It’s important to learn about Latino culture,” says Sylvia Orozco, Mexic-Arte Museum’s executive director, “because it’s such a big part of Austin’s culture.” The arts can be a great medium for learning because in appreciating the art you learn about the experience of the artist and the personal or political circumstances in which they make that art.

Austin Latino Music Association – ALMA’s mission is to increase knowledge and awareness in the community about local musicians and important historical figures in Austin’s Latino music scene, provide exposure and resources to local musicians, and to foster the development of young musicians who will keep Latino musical styles and traditions alive in the Capitol City.

Cine Las Americas – The mission of Cine Las Americas is to promote cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining and challenging diverse audiences through film and media arts. Cine recently held its annual film festival, attended by 2,700 audience members to screen a total of 66 feature films and 64 short films, representing 26 countries.

Mexic-Arte Museum – Billing itself as the official Mexican and Mexican-American fine arts museum of Texas, Mexic-Arte Museum exhibits traditional and contemporary works from Mexico and other Latin American Countries. It currently has a space on 4rth and Congress but it has plans for a spectacular new building for the near future. On May 5 Mexic-Arte is hosting its annual Gala de Museo to celebrate its 29th anniversary.

Bellas Artes Alliance – Promoting, preserving, and advancing the music, arts, and culture of the Latino community by producing festivals, educational programs, and events that strengthen the public’s awareness and appreciation of Latino heritage; that encourage social advocacy on behalf of the Hispanic community; and that support and expose Latino artists residing in the Americas. An annual Pan American Festival (which takes place in March) is the highlight of the year.

And don’t forget about Pachanga Latino Music Festival, May 10 – 11 at Fiesta Gardens.  It’s food, music, food (we like the food) and even a special  time for los ninos early Saturday afternoon. Best part is that proceeds from the event benefits FuturoFund, a membership group that pools annual dues to make grants to local nonprofit projects that target Latinos.

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