On November 8, 2018, Esperanza hosted two On the Table Philly talks as part of an initiative by The Philadelphia Foundation and the Knight Foundation. On the Table Philly aims to elevate civic conversations, foster new relationships and create unifying experiences. One talk, titled “Art, Opportunity & Equity,” brought together members of the art community from across the city to discuss the ways “Teatro Esperanza” can serve Hunting Park and other populations around the city that do not typically have easy access to the arts. The other talk, hosted at Tierra Colombiana, focused on intergenerational faith challenges within the Latino community.
Both talks focused on building bridges where barriers currently exist. In “Art, Opportunity & Equity,” attendees spoke about the ways physical barriers, like transportation, prevent everyone from having equal access to performance spaces like “Teatro Esperanza.”
“Creation is a God-given right,” said Jeri Lynne Johnson, the Founding Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. “It is our job as artists to develop that in everyone.”
While most of the talk focused on “Teatro Esperanza,” attendees said they felt that they were also building connections by coming to the talk and meeting new people.
“The two words that strike me are “showing up,” explained one attendee. She was happy that people showed up to connect with one another and excited for the ways Esperanza is showing up for its community.
In the talk hosted for intergenerational leadership from the Latino faith community, they worked to build connections across generations that may not be used to working together.
“Our purpose for having the conversation, “intergenerational challenges” in the ministerial context,” said Anthony Ramos, the Associate Project Director for National Programs at Esperanza, “is to better inform differing generations to appreciate other generational perspectives and experiences, as they operate in their ministerial spaces.”
As people gathered around the tables with unique perspectives and local food, they showed that connection, rather than division, is possible.
As “Art, Opportunity & Equity,” wrapped up, Isaias Caba, a senior at Esperanza Academy who was specially selected to attend the event, explained why the talk meant so much to him.
“For you all to be here,” Isaias said to the people around the table, “shows that there’s still hope for the community to unite together.”