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for Immigrant and Indigenous Artists in Southeast Queens

We Want to

Hear From You!

Building Equity for Immigrant, Indigenous and Native American Artists is a pilot program from the Jamaica Center of Arts & Learning. Supported by a grant from New York Community Trust, it is dedicated to researching, engaging and promoting underrepresented artists in our community, and to providing greater access for audiences to see and to experience their work.

Please help us collect better data about our community by participating in our Building Equity survey. Your input is a testament to human uniqueness and will help JCAL create programming where we can collectively celebrate individuality.

Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean: A Focus on the Taíno

Most Americans are familiar with the rhyme, “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” However, few people are aware of the Taíno, the Caribbean Indigenous Peoples Columbus met and called “Indians.” Did you know that a number of English and Spanish words such as hurricane, iguana, barbeque, and tobacco, among others, are borrowed from the Taíno language? In this online presentation, internationally renowned advocate, artist, and educator, Roberto Múkaro Borrero (Guainía Taíno) will provide viewers with an introductory look at the history, culture, and contemporary issues of the Taíno People. This lecture presentation will be followed by a Q & A session. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

@JCAL YouTube Channel

Puerto Rico Update with Prolibertad

In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit with category 5 Hurricane Maria. In 2019, the island suffered a number of powerful earthquakes. Now, island residents are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. In this online program, activist and journalist Ben Ramos, Prolibertad, will provide an update on how this Caribbean island is coping with these crises. The report back will be followed by a Q & A session and cultural presentations from Boricua poets Nancy Mercado, Angel Martinez, and Rafael Landrón.

Thursday, June 25, 2020
7:00 - 8:00 PM

@JCAL YouTube Channel

Film & Music: Sounds of Siberia

In this online concert film presentation, viewers will be taken on a journey to the expanse of Siberia by Yuliyana Krivoshapkina and Nachyn Choreve, virtuosos whose music evokes the power of nature and the deep connections between humanity and the universe. Nachyn is a master of different styles of throat singing while Yuliyana’s artistry on the khomus (jaw harp) harnesses the sounds of birds, reindeer, and winds of the seemingly endless tundra of Yakutia. These musical styles combined “evoke the grandeur and impermanence of the natural world.” The concert, Sounds of Siberia, 2020, 64 minutes, was organized by Pure Nature Music and recorded by Tim Solovyev and Zhargal Solovyev. The film will be followed by a Q & A session with Vera Solovyeva, an indigenous (Sakha) person from the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russian Federation.  

Monday, June 29, 2020

7:00 - 8:30 PM

@JCAL YouTube Channel

500 Years & Counting: The East Coast Blind Spot

In partnership with New York Theater Workshop and LaMaMa, Safe Harbors NYC will lead a discussion focused on the Mayflower 400 celebrations and the non inclusion of Wampanoag Peoples as Contemporary Artists. Learn how the invisibility of East Coast Natives in the performing arts contributes to the inequity East Coast Tribal Nations endure.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

7:00 - 8:30 PM

@JCAL Youtube Channel

Public Programs

About Building Equity Project

Building Equity for Immigrant and Indigenous Artists (Building Equity) is a pilot program supported by a two-year grant from New York Community Trust. It is dedicated to researching, engaging and promoting underrepresented artists in our community in a culturally sensitive and authentic manner, and to providing greater access for audiences to see and to experience their work. The Building Equity initiative will provide 10,000 hours of free studio/rehearsal space to artists new to JCAL, as well as 20 public programs, two culminating festivals, and digital access for all.

Crucial to the goals and values of Building Equity is an Advisory Council of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American artists from Southeast Queens that meets regularly to identify and to reach out to artist peers; to propose and to conduct surveys and research; and to design and execute inclusive and diverse programming as part of JCAL’s ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA). 

The inaugural cohort of the Advisory Council (known as the “Core Council”) was formed in Fall 2019, consisting of thought leaders, community advocates, and fellow artists and administrators from the field. Working in collaboration with JCAL staff, the Core Council aims to strengthen JCAL’s community engagement by prioritizing a non-Western-based cultural canon that also encompasses marketing, fundraising, and local businesses and residents.

Core Council

The founding members of the Advisory Council are:

Roberto Múkaro Borrero

(Guainía Taíno), an Indigenous Taíno leader and a locally, nationally, and internationally respected human rights, cultural arts, and environmental advocate with over 20 years of public programming experience.

Trace DePass (Afro-Caribbean/Native American), a Queens-born author, spoken-word musician and poet.

Rafael Landrón (Taíno/Puerto Rican), a Queens resident and immigrant artist.

Vera Solovyeva (Sakha, Russia), an Indigenous traditional land keeper, scientist and local artisan.

In Memoriam:

Kevin Tarrant/Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective (Hopi/Ho-Chunk), a Native American traditional artist, community leader, and cultural advocate.

Tecumseh Ceaser (Matinecock/Wampanoag/Blackfoot), a Queens-based artist and tribe representative.

Romanee Kalicharran (Indo-Guyanese/Puerto Rican), a cultural leader and resident of Jamaica, Queens.

Kevin McEwan (West African American), a Queens-born choreographer and drummer, educator and community advocate.

Paige "Queen TuT" Stewart hails from Queens, New York; Working as a dance teacher at various public schools, dance schools, and arts centers as well as all over the Tri-state area instructing youth, autistic children, and also mentally disabled adults in movement & dance. She is the CEO of The Kingdom Dance company an artist collective that serves teens and adults in Dance, Spoken Word, and Acting opportunities and training. She is also a spoken word artist that has worked off-Broadway and professionally danced for BET, MTV MSG network, and many more amazing artists. 

The Building Equity Project is supported by the New York Community Trust. 


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Jamaica, NY 11432, USA

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