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The Philadelphia Daily News
Developing Talent An Art At This Agency; Taller Puertorriqueno Ending Special Year
By REGINA MEDINA
December 3, 2004
Carmen Febo-San Miguel, executive director of Taller Puertorriqueno, remembers her first Taller event back in the mid-1970s.
Febo-San Miguel, who came from Puerto Rico to do her residency in family medicine at Hahnemann University Hospital, had taken a break to see Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Antonio Caban Vale perform at Christ Church and St. Ambrose on 6th and Venango.
"I was completely immersed in medicine. There was nothing here to connect me to my culture," said Febo-San Miguel, 56.
Then, "I go to this room filled with Latinos and Puerto Ricans, and it was wonderful," said the practicing family doctor, who has headed Taller for five years.
The connection to culture through arts is what Taller Puertorriqueno has been promoting during its 30-year history. Tomorrow, the organization will hold its annual dinner/dance fund-raiser at 8 p.m. in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, capping off a year of events celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The organization was formed as a project under Aspira Inc. of Pennsylvania by art-college grads Rick Hall, Domingo Negron and others from Temple University and Haverford College, Negron said. Taller Puertorriqueno, meaning "Puerto Rican Workshop," was established and incorporated in 1974 as a its own entity, offering classes to Edison High School dropouts, he said.
The nonprofit organization, with a 10-person paid staff and an annual budget of $830,000, serves some 500 to 600 kids and youth during the school year, said Febo-San Miguel. That number drops to 60 for the must-get-in arts summer camp.
But it's not just a kids thing.
Adults can partake in Taller's offerings including a permanent gallery in its 5th Street near Lehigh Avenue location. Taller also sponsors Nuyorican poetry readings, book presentations and the annual Ferria del Barrio (neighborhood festival).
Board member Marilyn Rodriguez, an artist who uses various mediums (acrylic and tissue paper on canvas), says she first volunteered for Taller in 1988. "Once you're there, you fall in love with the environment and the people," she said. "You're hooked for life."
And Lucas Rivera, a muralist and dance teacher who is known about town as DJ Lucas, discovered his painting style as a young student at Taller.
"I am a product of Taller. Everything that I do culturally is very much connected to my learning process being involved in that center," Rivera said.
Taller's classes are held at schools and recreation centers as, well as at its 5th and Huntingdon location. Subjects offered include creative writing, dance, musical theater, capuera (Brazilian martial arts), ceramics and painting.
Kids ages 5 to 15 can attend the cultural awareness program and high school seniors intent on attending college to study art may enroll in the youth artist program.
For more information about its programs or the fund-raiser, call 215-426-3311.