Community Engagement Program

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The School of Arts and Culture at MHP (the School)  is a vibrant, cultural institution in East San Jose. Founded in 2011, the School activates a vital local asset – the Mexican Heritage Plaza; a 6-acre, $35M City facility with an expansive plaza and theatre. Annually, the School hosts over 70,000 people. Through our core programming, we catalyze creativity and empower community.

Holding and providing space for cultural expression in marginalized communities is critical. Through the School’s Community Engagement Program (CEP), our community’s culture is practiced, affirmed, and celebrated in a way that is not happening in mainstream America. At the School, we uplift our community’s heritage through authentic placemaking and relevant  multicultural productions.

Signature annual events that the School presents, include:

  1. Chile Mole Pozole: A celebration of Mexican Independence Day featuring traditional food, unique family recipes, and art that bridges the traditions of Mexico and East San Jose.

  2. Tres Vinos Dinner: The School’s annual fundraiser that convenes 300 people to celebrate the Schools accomplishments and (this year) to honor the founders of the Plaza.

  3. La Avenida De Altares: A celebration that features altars and other art installations at many local businesses in the three blocks surrounding the Plaza. On this day, we showcase the vibrancy of our heritage through the collection of cultural festivities, dances, and musical performances that honor the living and the dead.

  4. Fiesta Navideña: The Eastside's holiday festival that brings over 1,500 people to the Plaza to celebrate Christmas through performances, food, and our tree lighting ceremony.   

  5. Cafecitos: A pop-up coffee shop where community members hang out, meet-greet, are connected to resources, and learn about our community’s rich history and culture. FY20’s Cafecitos include:

    • September 19: Fostering Neighborhood Vitality (protection of local community including artists through investment in smart development)

    • October 17:  Uplifting and Protecting our Culture & Promoting Social Cohesion (protection of murals and investment in culturally relevant public art & relationship building through the creation of art)

    • November 21: Promoting Culture/Arts to Inspire Better Academic Performance & Leadership Development (STEAM)

    • December 5: Promoting health and wellness through the arts (mental health, balance)

Annually, the School:

  • Convenes 70,000 people

  • Presents — in collaboration with 60 community partners — relevant, multicultural programming that celebrates our diverse community.

  • Provides technical assistance (including organizational development, fiscal sponsorship, project budget management, and production development) to local artists, multicultural institutions, and non-profit agencies.

  • Subsidizes the cost of 156 productions (approximately $500,000 in subsidies)

Core partners include:

  1. Calpulli Tonalehqueh: is an Aztec dance and cultural diffusion group based in San Jose.  Their name means "community of guardians who accompany the sun" in the Náhuatl language.  Their mission is to create spaces for, facilitate the practice of, and promote community health through indigenous Mexican culture.

  2. Cashion Cultural Legacy: is a foundation dedicated to sustaining the preservation, presentation, and education of Mexican folk culture through dance.

  3. Los Lupeños de San José: is a Mexican folk dance company that was founded in 1969. They provide programming to youth and adults throughout San Jose.

  4. Sangam Arts: is a non-profit that provides an innovative platform for artists from diverse backgrounds to come together to co-create world-class music and dance performances.

  5. San Jose Taiko: is a pioneer in contemporary taiko (the Japanese word for drums) and have been instrumental to the growth of the art form, helping to nurture an ecosystem that now supports more than 500 groups spread throughout North America.

  6. SV Creates: is a network of leaders who care about the cultural and aesthetic quality of life in Silicon Valley. They are conveners, promoters, incubators, and investors in Silicon Valley’s creative ecosystem. 

  7. Teatro Visión: is a Chicanx theater company with more than three decades of service to the community. Their work amplifies the voices of Latinxs, creates a dignified and empowering sense of identity, inspires action, builds respect and understanding, and explores the social and psychological experiences of Latinxs.