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FunTimes Spotlight: Up Close and Personal with Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel - Event Recap

Oct 26, 2021 11:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
photo of host Michelle Snow and photo of guest Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel

“We need the historian and philosopher to give us with trenchant pen, the story of our forefathers, and let our soul and body, with phosphorescent light, brighten the chasm that separates us. We should cling to them just as blood is thicker than water.” - Arturo Alfonso Schomberg, Afro Borriqueño/ Afro-Puerto Rican scholar

On October 15th at 11 am EST, FunTimes Magazine partnered with Taller Puertorriqueño to host ‘FunTimes Spotlight: Up Close and Personal’ with a special feature on Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel, Executive Director of Taller Puertorriqueño. This event, hosted by Michelle Snow, Platinum Connect and Performance Coach, celebrated the work of Dr. Miguel and the legacy of Taller Puertorriqueño.

Dr. Miguel, a Puerto Rico native, became affiliated with Taller in 1999 when she came to Philadelphia for a doctors training program. Dr. Miguel says the mission of Taller is to “promote work towards the preservation and cultivation of Puerto Rican art, and understand the communities that are strongly tied to their identity feel empowered, as well as recognize our connection with other Afro Latinos.” As educators and preservatives of creativity and art, Taller toils with the belief that art is critical and essential to the health and livability of their communities.

Through her advocacy, Dr. Miguel has helped transform Taller from a Philadelphia row home organization to one that operates in an $11.4m state of the art cultural center. In addition to highlighting Taller’s art, she has received multiple awards and developed numerous outreach programs. Dr. Miguel will retire this December. 

In discussing her journey and how it prepared her to develop Taller’s mission, Dr. Miguel says that she grew up in a family where culture and art were important. One of the challenges that Dr. Miguel notes in working towards Taller’s mission is that in the US, art is seen as a commodity, and the centrality of the art in the livelihood and the quality of life in a community is not as recognized. “We always suffer with arts being immediately cut when there is an issue with budgets”, she says.

Building close relationships with state and government officials helped Taller to grow and develop. Taller also partners with the Schomburg Center, which houses the collection of Afro Borriqueño/ Afro-Puerto Rican scholar Arturo Schomburg and others, as well as other organizations. In describing the racial intricacy of Puerto Ricans, Dr. Miguel says “Puerto Ricans are multi-racial, with Black, Indigenous, and White heritage. The relationship with that heritage is complex and people have mixed feelings about it.”

Dr. Miguel notes the fierce nature of activism, and says “We are always fighting a battle of sustainability… If you aren’t persistent you aren't going to get there because the obstacles are many.” Through the campaigning of Dr. Miguel, Taller, and other organizations, the groups were able to get $1m out of the $3m that Mayor Kenney wrote out of the budget restored. 

Through the struggle, Taller continues to rise triumphantly. Dr. Miguel says “The smiles of the kids in the closing events in Taller after doing Puertorriquena bomba or hip hop, or when they show to their parents the work they have done” energizes her to keep going. 

On Saturday, October 23rd at 1:30 pm, Taller Puertorriqueño hosted the free event ‘Meet the Author: Edgardo Miranda Rodriques: La Borinqueña’. Learn more about the event here.

 Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ) 

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