Marta Moreno Vega, Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón, & Celso Gonzalez Quiñones
Freedom is - always has been - in jeopardy, as so patently signal the continuing cultural wars that are being so fiercely contested, so intensive and damning.
In the middle of that war, money is used to destroy language, culture, history, religion, so identifying and naming are essential, argues Marta Moreno Vega, especially the naming of racial realities and the processes of erasure and diminishing expectations in Puerto Rico, and the dislocation of African American experiences. It is essential to develop a narrative that contains the island as a whole, not that eludes it. As an "artivist" Celso Gonzalez Quiñones has battled what he terms the "colonial nature in our navel" and the scarcity of financial possibilities for artists.
As an artist from the "outside" of traditional circles, he has witnessed how the thirst for money is real, and the end result is that oftentimes it is awarded to cliques.
Artists, he says, are pleading for communication from understanding grant givers and donors to get access to means of production. That would ensure that, as Moreno Vega says, "our voices won't be stifled."
He vouches for "projects that decolonize" by restructuring the funding, and awarding artists or organizations for periods of 8 to 10 years, thus assuring the completion of worthwhile projects that at present run the risk of never being started or completed, thus erasing the possibility of valuable art from the island. "Perpetuating colonization in art or life is unacceptable," he asserts.
In terms of grantmaking, Marta Moreno Vega noted "grantmakers have a very particular role to play in making sure that our democracy stands. When we say "democracy" , I'm not talking about politics But the freedom of artists to express their points of view to be critical of what is happening in the world."
As Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón said, "If we don't invest in our artists and art institutions - that are safe places, that are critical spaces to protect the voice of our people- then what are we doing?"