Houston Arts Alliance continues efforts to recruit more Latin artists to better reflect the city

Rita Garcia Image
Friday, October 20, 2023
Houston Arts Alliance continues to recruit more Latin artists
'La Jungla' co-founders speak about how the Houston Arts Alliance has helped them and other Latin artists in the city.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Arts Alliance continues to recruit and award grants to Latin artists in an effort to better reflect Houston.

Emily Areta and Ryanna Wilson are recent HAA grant recipients and cofounders of a newly established "musical experience" called La Jungla, or The Jungle.

The project stems from the duo's desire to celebrate their Caribbean heritage and create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.

Areta says she and Wilson's heritage inspired her.

"I'm Panamanian, she's Trinidadian, and we have a lot of overlap in our cultures and our music styles," Areta said. "We feel like there's a lot of lack of that culture here, and especially in certain parts of the city."

Wilson added, "I love the fact that we're able to do this, and bring this culture and be able to share it with our queer brothers and sisters. Caribbean culture hasn't really been the friendliest in that way and so we were both inspired to be able to do that for that community."

The two usually fund La Jungla out of their own pocket, but it's a labor of love. They say it can continue now thanks to grant money from HAA.

HAA's CEO, John Abodeely, says it's good to hear the difference they make. He believes all artists and their work make Houston diverse and vibrant.

In an effort to better reflect the city, the HAA is working to recruit more Latin artists. So far, the organization has made its website available in Spanish and has created more partnerships in certain communities.

Abodeely believes they're making good progress.

"Our application numbers really exploded and that's very exciting," the CEO said. "We have seen growth in our application numbers including in our Latino representation of applicants, but we are not yet there and that's what we are working on now."

While the HAA continues its work, Areta hopes hearing her story will inspire others to apply for HAA grants too.

"I hope that people [see] us [and realize] that they, too, can apply for things like this and receive it, Areta said. "If you are creative of any kind... professional or not, you have these resources from the city."