In the fall of 2011, Casita Maria was awarded a prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund grant to partner with our Company-in-Residence at the time, Dancing in the Streets, and launch a major effort—The South Bronx Culture Trail— to protect our community’s great cultural heritage and use it as a motor for future creative and economic development.
Our community has a remarkable history. During its heyday in the decades from the 1930s to the 1960s—as Mambo was transformed into the distinct New York Latin music of Salsa— the Bronx was a destination for culture. Even during the late 1960s and 1970s when the “Bronx was burning” the area had a remarkably resilient cultural life—giving birth to Hip Hop, Voguing, Fashion Moda and the Bronx Museum. But today, this history is at risk of being lost. Theaters have closed and have become stores or have simply been demolished. Some performers have left the area and lost touch with the community. Music clubs are transitory and quickly forgotten. Old performers die without leaving any record of their work. Youth are unaware of the talent that has been birthed by their community.
With the launch of the Culture Trail we arrest this loss of community memory. In the first year – a year of information gathering and celebration – we established a city-wide South Bronx Culture Trail Advisory Council, gathered stories of and sites marking the community’s cultural history and launched the Trail.
Since 2012, in collaboration with Dancing in the Streets, Bronx Music Heritage Center, the SBCT Advisory Council and additional community based partners, we have presented free annual themed-based festivals showcasing culturally significant performances and visual art exhibitions by Bronx-based youth groups, emerging artists and pioneers. Select themes celebrated the history of hip hop, jazz, community leadership and activism in the South Bronx. Visit our website each Spring for the latest festival calendar.