The Guadalupe Board must resign. Everybody is saying it. Just not publicly. Porque?
Steve Bailey, a long-time cultural leader, said it to me. He also said it to Elda Silva of the San Antonio Express-News, who's writing a story about the Guadalupe crisis, due out soon.
In fact, if you sit down and talk to the other cultural activistas in town, from the Westside Coalition to the art collectors to the raza professors at UTSA, to the established artists in town, they all say the same thing:
The Guadalupe Board Must Go.
Why don't they say this outloud? The Cultural Leaders are afraid of appearing to gain at the Guadalupe's expense. As much as they would like to get more money from the Office of Cultural Affairs, they don't want to see the Guadalupe collapse. You see, at the rate the Guadalupe is going, there won't be a Guadalupe Center in a couple of years - but the Guadalupe Board is ill-equipped to understand that, harboring fantasies of becoming the Alameda and getting the hell out of the barrio at the same time.
The art collectors? They don't say anything because they are people who love art, that is how they contribute to the community, by supporting the artists. But "they" have told me how dismayed they are with the Guadalupe Board.
The artistas? Some of them have spoken to me on the record: Cesar Martinez, Adan Hernandez, David Zamora Casas, Alejandro Rodriguez-Diaz, Rolando Briseno. Many others just shake their heads, swearing at Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso, the former executive director, and R. Bret Ruiz.
The gay men? Whaaaaat? The progressive gay men have told me that Ruiz is "old school," meaning anti-woman. The latino gay men say he's anti-raza, anti-barrio, anti-mujeres. They say he's a mess.
The Profesores? They study the Guadalupe Cultural Center, and most hesitate to criticize because of their collegiality with two of the Guadalupe's Board of Directors who haven't taken a stand for the good: Harriet Romo, UTSA professor and long-term Boardmember who hasn't attended a meeting in three years, and who is la esposa de Ricardo Romo, UTSA President; and Gwendolyn Diaz, St. Mary's University professor who is one of the founders of "Latina Letters," which has featured many prominent latina writers in town - writers, I think, who hesitate to anger her.
So here's some of what's going on. Everybody tells me "The Board must Go," many using not very nice words when they say it, words that begin with the letter "P" and ending with "S."
But they say this entre nosotros, because to criticize the Guadalupe is like telling your mother she needs to leave your father. To save the children. Most of us just can't do this. What will la gente say? What will the gringos say about us? Who cares?
What can they say? That we don't have our act together? And they do? Like the symphony?
You know, it's because of all those bookfestivals and cinefestivals and conjunto dancing because of the Guadalupe that I'm saying The Board Must Go outloud. Art is the ultimate power. I want more books, more cine, more musica. Art is a revolution, and dangerous, because of the way it sets us free.
You see, the Guadalupe taught me that I am free. Free! To create, to dance, to love. I am not afraid of what others think. I am more afraid to deny where I came from.
And that - ladies and gentlemen - is what the Guadalupe Cultural Center stands for. Verdad?
photo credit: From the GCAC website, www.guadalupeculturalarts.org, photographer's name not listed