Our sixth annual Albuquerque Cultural Conference, “Creating Our Common Culture,” will convene on September 27-29, 2013 at Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With the convening of this conference, we’re making a new start for our organization: moving from discussion to active involvement in our social and cultural world in the midst of dramatic and sometimes unsettling change.
We’re not just spectators: we’re activists, organizers, artists, and teachers who are responsible to our communities and the work done there. We’re performers too, and we come to this collective work we do from our own personal and social origins. We address ourselves to the issues that compel us to speak. For some, it’s our own experience as children and adult members of our communities; it’s an attempt at recovery from trauma and social inequality; or it’s simply the belief that we can make a better world. Often, as we’ve discovered in these conferences, it’s all three of these and more.
We’re asking you for a new kind of input. We have several proposals. One is to create and coordinate a program of community activism, including our common sense of culture (la cultura) of democracy and social harmony we hope to sustain. Another is to foster a broad approach to community writing programs, supporting literacy, self-expression, and performance here and across the region. A third is a well-planned program of progressive support of the arts, nurtured by sponsors with an eye to cultural democracy and social activism.
We’ll need two kinds of effort from you. One is the practical work you and people like you already do—not only your ideas and willingness to share visions of the future, but your involvement in social change organizations and your feedback to us as to how we can promote these efforts. We also want to take our work outside the immediate region, to join other groups where we can make a difference (this recalls some of the Mexican border issues we addressed last year).
The kind of support we seek starts with the local but inevitably travels beyond the region. By bringing people in to work with us, we can expand our own vision. We need to discuss how best to do that. Should we rely on federal and state agencies that are facing all kinds of political pressure of their own? How do we work from within our communities of interest when they themselves are in need of help? How do we share our resources effectively? How do we join with like-minded national organizations in the interest of promoting a peoples culture? There’s an urgency about this moment for our whole society: political, personal, economic, and cultural. Whatever message we send out will certainly find some responses. We need to establish solidarity with others that goes beyond the limitations of place.
This conference is designed to activate us more than entertain us, to provide a platform for future endeavors rather than simply a cultural feast for our own consumption. Feast we will, at a pot luck, at readings and performances. But we are primarily builders rather than consumers. We work in hope that the future we provide will be productive for all of us: in the words of the old labor song, “Bread and roses, bread and roses.”
Join us at the end of September!