Latin American cultural contributions

Multiple community-based Latino associations hold community festivals celebrating the Latino culture heritage and national identity. One of the oldest community festivals is the Latino Festival Fiesta DC in Mt. Pleasant. Held in one of the neighborhoods with the strongest historic Latino ties, the festival celebrates the rich multicultural tradition of Latin America and showcases the growing Latino businesses in the city. In addition, several institutions throughout the city sponsor cultural festivals such as the Latin American Film Festival. The many public affairs programs and cultural centers from Latin American embassies and international organizations also enrich the city’s cultural life. One such center is the Inter-American Cultural Center at the Inter-American Development Bank. The Cultural Center was created in 1992 with the mission of advancing the cultural heritage of Latin American and Caribbean nations in Washington, DC.

The center also contributes to social development by administering a grants program that sponsors and cofinances small-scale cultural projects. Another such institution is the Smithsonian Latino Center. The center is part of the Smithsonian Institution and receives about $1 million per year in funding from Congress to promote Latino cultural heritage through museum exhibits and cultural programs. In the past 10 years alone, the Center has distributed approximately $10 million in congressional funds to more than 250 successful cultural art projects. Six Spanish-language dailies and magazines are published in the city. Some 50 restaurants and lounges catering to Latinos have opened in the city in the last decade. One of the oldest Latino theater companies, GALA (Grupo de Artistas Latinoamericanos), also operates in Washington, DC. GALA was founded in 1976 and was the outgrowth of Teatro Double, a bilingual children’s

Latino commercial center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Courtesy of Enrique S. Pumar.

theater in Washington. GALA Hispanic Theatre has long been a groundbreaking and energetic performing center presenting classical and contemporary plays in Spanish and English, as well as an accompanying program of dance, music, poetry, spoken word, art, and, more recently, film. In January 2005, after 29 years of moving between venues, GALA moved into its permanent home in the historic Tivoli Theater. The move to a permanent home fulfilled the dream of its founder, Hugo Medrano, who had envisioned GALA as one of the more vibrant cultural outlets in the city.


1. According to the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, only 61 Hispanic delegates have served in the legislative branch since 1774. See hispanic/congress/contents.html.

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