While raising three daughters and working for years as an activist, Veronica Castillo-Perez saw the declining state of arts education in American communities—and decided to do something about it. She formed a nonprofit organization, LUPE Arte (Latinas Unidas Por el Arte/Latinas United for the Arts), which brings local artists and schoolchildren together for after-school and summer instruction in Austin’s underserved neighborhoods.
Founded in 2000, LUPE Arte currently offers its Niños y Arte after-school program at Allan Elementary, Pickle Elementary and Graham Elementary. In 2004 Castillo-Perez plans to expand the program to Dobie Middle School, Martin Middle School, and Winn, Jordan, and Walnut Creek Elementaries. The program is multidisciplinary and fosters critical-thinking skills, literacy, academic success and media awareness. It gives women artists a chance to share their talents with young minds. LUPE Arte also presents an annual Virgen de Guadalupe Fiesta and participates in community events like Ladyfest and Día de los Niños.
AustinMama caught up with Veronica as she was busy petitioning for a grant, but she had this to say:
Who inspired you when you were growing up and why?
My older brother, Pete Castillo, Jr. inspired me as a child because he was the first family member of six children to attend college.
You are face to face with your ten-year-old self. You have one thing to say to her about her future, what do you say?
Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper or see on television.
What is the biggest challenge you see mothers faced with today?
A shortage of quality child-care providers.
What do you see as your biggest challenge in being the kind of person you want to be?
The fact there there’s so much work to be done in this community and so little time. I’m getting old!
What makes you most happy about what you give back to the world?
The smiles of children when their chest expands with pride when they realize their potential.
What makes you most happy about the way you parent?
When they start mimicking my positive actions and call me on my negative actions.
What two notable people would you like to see handcuffed together for a day?
George W. Bush with either Michael Moore or Molly Ivins
What do you wish you could automatically grant, like a fairy godmother, to mothers during trying times?
Financial security and physical wellness. A shoulder to lean on and a solution to their immediate problem.
Thanks Veronica! For more information about LUPE Arte, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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