NALAC History


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The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) is an arts service organization that serves the needs of the diverse Latino arts and cultural communities in the United States. NALAC is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of Latino arts.


NALAC plays an important leadership role in building the professional capacity of Latino artists and organizations throughout the country. Through its programs and advocacy efforts, NALAC serves as a catalyst for communities’ cultural development, positive social change, and the ongoing stabilization and sustainability of the Latino arts field. NALAC stimulates and facilitates intergenerational dialogues among disciplines, languages, and traditional and contemporary expressions.


Founded in 1989, NALAC was born from a common vision shared by a group of prominent Latino and Latina artists. These individuals, who represented numerous arts disciplines, ethnic heritages, and geographic regions, recognized the necessity of a national organization focused on advocacy on behalf of the under-served Latino arts sector.


During its formative years, NALAC had no staff and was housed at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio. Pedro Rodriguez served as NALAC’s first executive director from 1998 to 2001. In 2002, the board of directors selected Maria De Leon as NALAC’s new executive director. In the past several years, NALAC has undergone measured growth in the development of its programs and organizational capacity. The organization has undertaken larger and more complex activities through a strategic organization structure, program expansion and the acquisition of a facility. NALAC has undertaken larger and more complex activities while expanding the annual budget, hiring permanent staff members, and purchasing three buildings that will house the NALAC offices and the renowned Leadership Training Institute.


NALAC's membership is a multiethnic, multigenerational, and interdisciplinary community that includes thousands of Latino artists and more than 900 large and small not-for-profit Latino arts and cultural organizations in the United States. NALAC artists and arts organizations specialize in a diverse range of disciplines, which include visual arts, theater, dance, music, performance art, literature, and mixed media.


NALAC continues to lead in funding, service, and advocacy to benefit the diverse and vital Latino arts field. NALAC‘s programs and services provide opportunities for artistic production, and the tools necessary to transform Latino arts and cultural organizations in the next phase of their development. NALAC envisions a future of equity, sustainable growth, and economic success for all diverse artists and arts and cultural organizations, which will contribute to the transformations of the communities they serve. NALAC plays a significant role in catalyzing important new artistic production and invigorating the national arts landscape.