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For CreArte Latino Cultural Center, a new era begins for cultural exchange, education

More than a decade after its founding as a creative hub for the Latino communities of Sarasota and Manatee counties, CreArte Latino Cultural Center is poised for major growth.

A $126,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation will support the center’s new “Fortifying CreArte” initiative, providing paid professional staff, an accounting service, and more.

“CreArte Latino Cultural Center delivers outstanding performances and educational programming and is a wonderful collaborator with other organizations,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of the Barancik Foundation. “Our investment aims to help the CreArte Latino team elevate and grow their vital, inclusive work, which connects our Latino communities and the wider community.”

CreArte Latino was created in 2012 and became a nonprofit organization in 2016. That year, it also increased its performance schedule to four full-length plays annually, one children’s theater production, and added its first “Spanglish” improv comedy show. In 2017, CreArte Latino elected Carolina Franco as its non-paid president and artistic director.

Under Franco's guidance, the organization has continued to expand its programming and youth and adult education options, collaborating with artists from Sarasota and throughout Latin America for ongoing events and programs.

“This grant makes a monumental difference for CreArte Latino,” Franco said. “It paves the way to a brighter future – one with a strong foundation and support system. We’ve accomplished a great deal as a mostly volunteer-staffed organization – just imagine what we can accomplish with a paid staff and a dedicated operations budget. The Barancik Foundation’s grant will allow us to do far more for our community. I am so grateful for their trust, guidance and support. A dream is now coming true for me. I can finally say I work at CreArte Latino Cultural Center.”

The seed money will support a full-time salary as producing artistic director for Franco, who before this grant had volunteered her time. The initiative also includes hiring a part-time grants writer and donor database administrator, a part-time fundraising professional, and an accounting service. Franco said that the organization, located at 8251 15th St. E. in Sarasota, is also looking for a new space.

CreArte Latino provides a bilingual cultural exchange between Latinos/Hispanics and the Sarasota-Manatee community at large through the arts and education, including theater productions, book clubs, classes, and workshops. To find out more or to donate or register for programs and events, visit or CreArte Latino on Facebook.

Submitted by Su Byron

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