Monday, August 13, 2012

Report from National Arts Leadership Institute

Guest Author: Sam Wargin

During the week of July 16th I participated in a leadership institute in San Antonio, TX put on by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC). As a Latino artist and arts advocate from Oklahoma, the chance to be part of this year’s selection to attend was an exciting opportunity and turned out to be an incredibly humbling yet inspiring experience.
National Association of Latino Arts and Culture  Leadership Institute participants,
including Oklahoma artist & educator Sam Wargin (rear amid address numbers) 
NALAC is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting, developing, and cultivating the Latino arts field on a national level. Their efforts remind me a lot of what OVAC does by offering workshops, grants and other forms of support to artists and organizations, except it’s on a larger scale and with an emphasis on Latino artists and arts organizations.

The leadership institute itself consisted of 6 days of intensive training in the form of lectures, group activities, and conversations. Along with the 21 other participants, who represented organizations and communities from all across the country, I was being trained to be a leader within my community.

I think one of the most important things we could have taken away from that week is that, while we may have been learning and discussing what Latino art is and can be on a national level, we all have the responsibility--and now the capability--to bring those ideas and actions back to our own communities.
Sam Wargin (3rd from left) taking part in Artist Summit as part of the
Cultural Development Corporation 's Artist Support Study
It has been my dream for a while now to see Latinos in Oklahoma have more visibility and more access to the creative outlets offered by the arts whether it is through education or exposure. I applaud the efforts of the local art community to reach out and recognize what already exists in that regard, but I want more.

Being surrounded by the many established and up-and-coming artists, performers, directors, and organizers made me hungry to see our growing Latino community more engaged in the national conversation on Latino experiences in the arts and more involved in the growth that Oklahoma City, and the state as a whole is going through right now. The skills I learned through the leadership institute taught me how to go about turning my dream into a tangible reality, but it was the experience of a week surrounded by such inspiring individuals, faculty included, that gave me the motivation to continue investing the time and effort into creating the kind of future I’d like to see.

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