The Latinos of Philadelphia
Since the 1920’s, the City of Philadelphia has been an enclave for Latino immigrant workers in the manufacturing sector, giving rise to a vibrant Latino– still predominantly Puerto Rican– community. The largest wave of Puerto Ricans to Philadelphia was in the decades of the 50’s and 60’s when they arrived, from the island of Puerto Rico, mainly via the farms of New Jersey, or the cities of New York and Chicago. During those years, a vibrant manufacturing industry in North Philadelphia and near the piers, especially the sector of Northern Liberties, provided the conditions for work, housing and community.
In the 1950’s major Puerto Rican neighborhoods evolved around jobs, civic centers, small businesses and church in the sectors of Kensington, Northern Liberties, Spring Garden and Southwark. Similar to other communities, the drain of manufacturing jobs in the late 60’s and 70’s, and the return of veterans from the Korean War, displaced many wage earners forcing many into welfare or to engage in informal economies to sustain their families. During the late 60’s and early 70’s a small group of Puerto Rican artists realized the need and importance of creating a gathering space to promote and practice Puerto Rican arts and culture. It was also an effort to teach youth, especially Puerto Rican youth about their culture through the rich tradition of Puerto Rican arts. That was the beginning of Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller).
Building Community through Art Since 1974
Taller’s work fills the gap of cultural programming on a community-wide basis. Through our primarily free events, performances and gallery exhibitions, we strive to give quality Latino arts and cultural programming to those who have little access. Taller has thrived in a community struggling with high unemployment and dropout rates, drugs, prejudice, and violence. This stands as a testament to the role Taller plays in celebrating this community’s strength, resilience, diversity and cultural richness.
At Taller, we believe everyone has the right to experience art and cultural programming, so we strive to make our programs and performances as accessible to our community as possible. In 2011, about 5,000 more people attended our events than comparable organizations in Philadelphia. Additionally, approximately 11,600 more people attended our events free-of-cost than within the same comparison group of Philadelphia organizations (Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project, 2012). Our visual, literary and performing arts programming celebrate the community through arts and culture in all manifestations, a unique opportunity and draw for all audiences. Taller brings Philadelphians together, locally and city-wide, to experience the magical and transformational power of the arts.