San Antonio Area Foundation Helps Inspirational Arts Nonprofits Recover From The Pandemic 

By Kiko Martinez

SAN ANTONIO — Local cultural arts nonprofit organization Somos Cultura y Mas faced having to scratch its popular annual Fiesta event this year due to the pandemic’s impact on its fundraising efforts.

But thanks to a funding infusion specifically for arts nonprofits still reeling from the pandemic offered by the San Antonio Area Foundation, their event for children and their families will go on as planned.

“The funds really came at a time when fundraising was slow,” said Rebeca Carrera, executive director of Somos Cultura y Más, a local nonprofit that organizes the annual Fiesta event, El Día de los Niños. “The Foundation saw that we had a need and came through.”

With many public performances, exhibitions and other events suspended over the last two years, the Area Foundation launched the Recovery Fund for the Arts (RFA), an initiative recognizing the importance of the arts in the city’s ongoing collective recovery from the pandemic.

Through RFA, the Area Foundation has been able to support local arts and cultural organizations that help preserve San Antonio’s history and inspire lifelong learning and creativity. 

“These grants allow cultural organizations to continue reaching audiences and young artists who otherwise may not have access to creative outlets,” said Marjie French, CEO of the Area Foundation. 

“We are grateful to donors who met our call for supporting the arts towards sustainable recovery, and we see the impact of their generosity every day in the theaters, galleries and classrooms where artists are able to continue working thanks to the Recovery Fund for the Arts,” French noted.

Mary Quandt, who likes to donate to the Area Foundation because she believes it does a great job at vetting organizations and identifying the greatest needs, didn’t hesitate to do her part to support RFA. She didn’t want to see arts organizations left out because they, too, suffered from the impact of the pandemic.

“I gave to the fund because I felt that we needed to be uplifted and have something speak to our soul,” Quandt said. “What better than the arts to do that? We need to keep those organizations in mind and do something to make sure they survive.”

Although Quandt doesn’t dabble in the arts herself, she appreciates anything that takes creativity to be successful – from music to visual arts to theater and everything in between.

“The arts take you to a different place,” she said. “It can calm you down or rev you up. You can put your own interpretation on it. You can hear from the artists themselves and how they were able to produce a particular piece. I enjoy creative people. I’m always inspired by them.”

In all, RFA awarded $260,600 to 34 arts nonprofits in San Antonio and surrounding counties. Grant recipients included those whose primary discipline includes music, theater, film, dance, literary arts, visual arts, multidisciplinary arts, traditional arts, cultural preservation, as well as museums.

For Somos Cultura y Más, which focuses on preserving cultural traditions such as creating art activities for children and families in the community, the RFA grant served a timely lifeline. Carrera said the grant was put to use for El Día de los Niños, which is set this year for April 30.

“The arts are part of the basics needs of people,” Carrera said. “When they grow up understanding and knowing their cultural roots and traditions from their families, they grow up more resilient and can overcome something like a pandemic. The arts provide a method of expression and learning at a time when there was a crisis.”

El Día de los Niños fest takes place 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on April 30 at Plaza Guadalupe (1327 Guadalupe St.). The Children’s Parade is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Are you or someone you know interested in helping a good cause? The San Antonio Area Foundation has a plethora of options for interested donors, including contributing to existing charitable funds or even setting up your own tax-deductible fund. Click here for more information and to get started.

Kiko Martinez is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and a contributor to the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Storytelling Ambassador Network.