National Performance Network > News > NALAC National Conference – a Reflection

NALAC National Conference – a Reflection

Posted: Thursday, June 24th, 2010 at 5:24 pm in News

by Wesley Montgomery, Chief Operating Office, National Performance Network

This past spring (April 14-18), staff, board and Partners of the National Performance Network (NPN) had the privilege and pleasure to attend the National Conference of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), held in San Jose, CA. This opportunity emerged as key component of the partnership between NALAC and NPN. The partnership, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, creates learning exchange opportunities for members of both networks to gain valuable insights into some of the inner workings of how the other network operates. NPN Partners received scholarships to attend the convening, which supported their registration, hotel and travel to San Jose. This is the first reflection on the NALAC/NPN partnership, which has been a couple of years in the planning. As this partnership continues through the year, look for additional reflective missives from other NPN Partners and staff.

First, it is important to acknowledge the incredible coordinating and hosting job facilitated by Maria de Leon, executive director, Victor Payan, program director, the NALAC Board, staff and San Jose Host Committee. The warmth of the experience other NPN representatives and I had throughout the entire conference was particularly notable. In conversations I have had across the country since the National Conference, I am sure to underscore the deft way NALAC honors elders and emerging leaders at the event. Among those honored: Tomas Yberra-Frausto, Roberta Uno, Christine Ortega and Janet Rodriguez. The grace and sincerity with which these groups are celebrated is matched only by the breadth and depth of the artist showcases (I think I fell in love with Susana Baca!). My humble reflection is only a small slice of the overall experience. For more information, please visit NALAC’s website ( for photos, a full conference schedule, and more on the National Conference (special congrats to NALAC on its commendation from the city of San Jose!).

A key component of the NALAC National Conference experience was the opening plenary sessions, which presented white (or, rather brown) papers by Latino professionals and scholars on the state of the arts. These sessions offered attendees the opportunity to engage in conversation with one another about pressing issues and trends, and provided a strong frame for the day’s sessions. In addition to the plenary sessions, there were several workshops layered throughout the schedule to help build the knowledge base and informational exchange among attendees.

NPN presented a special workshop focused on the basics of performing arts touring for presenters and artists, called Doin’ It on the Road, as part of the professional development workshop series NALAC offered attendees. More than 50 artists, presenters and colleagues attended the session (special thanks to Alec de Leon and Yolanda Cesta Cursach for their leadership in this session). The lively discussion through the session and afterward underscores the significant need for ongoing education and information sharing about current practices and expectations in the field of performing arts presenting.

I also had the privilege of adding some insights while sitting on a panel focused on professional development opportunities, coordinated by Tamara Alvarez (1st Act, Silicon Valley), and including Carlos Velazquez (Teatro Vision) and Sarah Guerra (La Peña). This conversation continued the tradition of peer-to-peer exchange. I was reminded that the information we collect through our careers (for me…now marching toward 30 years in the field!) is valuable and helpful to others as they look for inspiration in their own lives and careers.

Ultimately, I left San Jose recharged and energized, and with a deeper respect and appreciation for such a beautiful conference experience. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the NALAC National Conference personally, I strongly encourage you to do so. You’re in for an informative, enjoyable experience… oh, and the parties are quite a joy as well. Thank you NALAC! As we plan for the NPN Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX (hosted by NPN Partner South Dallas Cultural Center), we are pleased to be able to return the gracious hospitality to NALAC staff, board and members.

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