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Meet Alma Catalan of Kid City Hope Place in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alma Catalan.

Alma E. Catalán is an arts advocate and believes in the value of the arts in all communities and individuals. Ms. Catalan holds a BA from California State University Long Beach’s Film Production Program. Alma’s career has taken her from working on film sets, theater productions, to working with youth. As an arts educator, it is her ultimate desire to provide a space for Latinx artists to share their untold stories of navigating in a bicultural world and create bridges to different communities.

By doing so, offer a new perspective and alternative point of view about the American experience. At Kid City Hope Place Alma Catalán is the Community College and Arts Programs Coordinator, in this position she works directly with youth and shares her personal experiences as a first-generation college-goer and Latinx, and arts educator. In doing so, she hopes to inspire and support the next generation of artists, musicians, curators, art historians, and the like.

In 2016, Alma had the opportunity to be a part of the Latino Museum Studies Program, based out of the Smithsonian Latino Center and completed a 6-week practicum at Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). Currently, Alma is an Arts Management candidate at the Center for Management in the Creative Industries (CMCI) at CGU’s Drucker School of Management.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Before working at Kid City Hope Place I was freelancing in theatre and film -getting there was not a smooth road but having mentors really helped get jobs both in theatre and film. However, after working in theatre and film for more than seven years I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was always the only person of color, women of color on set. At this point in my life, I decided to make a drastic change (not being creative was not easy) and I began to work with youth.

As a Latina and a first generation, college goer pursuing a career in the arts has come with several challenges and I knew that if I wanted to make a change I needed to mentor youth. These experience have inspired me to create more equitable art and cultural sector by example. This means continuing to fight for my passion; arts education. As a Latina and a first generation, college goer pursuing a career in the arts still comes with challenges and the motivation why I’m now completing a master’s in arts management from Claremont Graduate University.

With my diverse background, I now bring a unique perspective about real issues that are reflected in our nation’s changing demographics in the work I do. My experiences from growing up in Boyle Heights during a time when arts programs were non-existent and my insight about empowering communities with art programs have been now proven to beneficial to a program like Kid City.

Please tell us about Kid City Hope Place.
Currently, I’m the Community College and Arts Programs Coordinator for Kid City Hope Place, an after-school college access and leadership program in Los Angeles. Last year, I formalized the Arts Education Program (AEP) for high school and college students. The AEP provides monthly arts outings for college students design to introduce and provide them with their first arts experience. For high school students, the program expands on Kid City’s music and band program, which provides lessons, band practice, and performances to youth and young adults who would otherwise not have an opportunity to study music.

Students now have the opportunity to explore careers in the creative economy through panel discussions with guest speakers. Also, students who show interest in the arts are encouraged to apply to colleges that offer art majors through academic appointments with me. In the next three to five years I would like to transition to work in a medium to large arts organization and work in the education department. At the moment I’m considering museums or working for the city of Los Angeles to advance arts education.

About Kid City:
Most participants at Kid City are first-generation college or college-bound students living in neighborhoods around downtown Los Angeles including South Central and Pico Union. Kid City recognizes the problem of educational inequity and severe economic hardship among the communities we serve. We strive to provide ways for students to access opportunities, explore their intellectual curiosity, and discover their ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.

We place a high value on lasting, genuine relationships; and radical hospitality that demonstrates respect for all individuals, including LGBTQ, dreamers, undocumented families, and differently abled. We practice careful, empathic listening and encourage students to be honest as they find their own voice and share their stories. We recognize the pervasiveness of educational inequity, severe economic hardship, and other injustices, and seek within our learning community to understand and alleviate some of those issues affecting the youth and communities we serve.

We believe the communities we serve, though low in economic resources, are rich in resources and we are confident everyone involved has gifts to contribute and will do so generously. We believe in creating expectations tailored to individual students, and in the power of a community of “fictive kin” to encourage everyone to succeed. We are committed to Kid City as a transformative program that ultimately impacts extended families and communities, as it allows students to dream and become self-empowered leaders.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is playing with my friends. We used to make up a lot of games. But the one I like remembering the most is when we would set up blankets outside and stare at the stars in silence.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Henry Edward Hall

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