Last week, tech giant Amazon announced $1 million in funding to arts and cultural institutions in and around Boston–including the Veronica Robles Cultural Center (VRCC) in East Boston.
These funds will provide a much-needed boost to local arts and cultural organizations like the VRCC that have suffered revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Amazon, the resources will allow VRCC and other organizations to expand programming in arts equity and education, create training opportunities for young people pursuing careers in creative fields, and support live performances and discussions surrounding the arts, social justice and inclusivity.
“I want to thank Amazon for investing new resources at a critical time in our local arts community, which continues to thrive despite significant challenges created by the pandemic,” said Acting Mayor Kim Janey. “Boston’s vibrant arts and culture scene is integral to the equitable recovery, reopening and renewal of our city, and I’m pleased that such a diverse group of organizations, especially those that engage our young, aspiring artists, will benefit from this funding. After such a difficult year for so many, we’re doing all that we can to inspire joy, and that is central to the missions of these organizations.”
Veronica Robles has tirelessly worked to bridge the gap between the various cultures that all call East Boston home.
Over the years, through her Cultural Center, now located on Meridian Street, Robles has become a regular fixture in Eastie and has emerged as a community leader that has broken down barriers between Eastie’s Latino population and non-Latino population through art, music, festivals and activism.
During any given week Robles is hard at work promoting harmony between cultures and has embraced residents seeking to learn more about not only her Mexican heritage, but also the cultures of various ethnic groups in the community.
An accomplished singer by trade, Robles expanded her love for not only her own heritage but also the love of all cultures at the Cultural Center. Through dance classes, music workshops, numerous celebratory festivals throughout the year, Robles has encouraged new comers and longtime residents alike to get involved in not only the exercise of sharing their life experiences and struggles, but to celebrate the rich diversity that has made Eastie a great place to live, work and do business.
“The organizations we are channeling resources to are embedded in local Boston neighborhoods and prioritize making art accessible to all Bostonians,” said Jerome Smith, Amazon’s Senior Manager of External Affairs. “From harnessing the power of art to heal communities, to helping under resourced teens launch careers in art and design, to raising up the creative voices of Black and Brown people, these groups are performing groundbreaking work and building a more inclusive and equitable arts community.”
According to recent studies arts organizations have suffered significant revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One survey from March found that Massachusetts cultural organizations are contending with an average loss of almost $600,000 each. The same analysis suggests 65 percent of the organizations with employees have made the decision to, or plan to lay off, furlough, or reduce the hours or wages of their employees. More than 13,000 jobs in greater Boston within the arts and culture sectors have been negatively impacted from the economic downturn stemming from the pandemic.