With a Little Help from Our Friends
The DIY Community does it ourselves, together
Meow Wolf
March 2, 2022

Currently, we are accepting 2019 applications for our DIY Fund until Monday, October 7th at midnight, with funding being presented in spring 2020. Through the DIY Fund, small community art spaces receive grant money to pay for everything from infrastructure improvements to rent. In total, Meow Wolf has awarded more than $375,000 to nearly 250 DIY spaces across the country.

With only a few days remaining until our application window closes, we wanted to catch up with some of our previous DIY Fund recipients to learn more about the good work they’ve been doing!

Apply Here

Teatro Paraguas (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Photo courtesy of Teatro Paraguas

Teatro Paraguas is the first Southside Theatre company in Santa Fe. It’s a bilingual theatre dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic/Latinx culture, including theatre, storytelling, dance, and poetry. Since 2008, Teatro Paraguas has produced 15 plays by nine New Mexican playwrights, and they are committed to promoting local writers whose work reflects the Hispanic/Latinx/New Mexico experience. They make their spaces available to other performance individuals and companies, and just last year hosted 190 public events, including theatre performances, community celebrations, children’s theatre, poetry and play readings, workshops, concerts, and movie screenings.

The following answers were presented by JoJo Sena de Tarnoff, President of Teatro Paraguas.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered with running a DIY Space?

“Establishing and maintaining a year-round venue for performance arts is extremely challenging, especially in Santa Fe with the liability of a market value rental rate.”

How about some successes?

“Our successes include the coalescence of dedicated administrative and artistic volunteers. Our board of directors numbers 12, most of whom are also actors, directors, musicians, and designers.”

What does DIY mean to you?

“The aspect of DIY in Teatro Paraguas ensures our freedom of artistic expression. All the risks and rewards of our work land squarely on our own shoulders.”

“The aspect of DIY in Teatro Paraguas ensures our freedom of artistic expression. All the risks and rewards of our work land squarely on our own shoulders.”

Casa Taller Cangrejera (Santurce, Puerto Rico)

A giant puppet head in process from CTC resident Papel Machete, a political street theater troupe that uses puppetry and mask-making for disruptive storytelling projects. Photo courtesy of Casa Taller Cangrejera.

Casa Taller Cangrejera is an artist living/workshop space developing popular education and performance projects for social transformation. They offer workshops, art builds, and community events. CTC is also the home of Papel Machete, a political street theater troupe that uses puppetry and mask-making for disruptive storytelling projects and street performances in support of the Puerto Rican people’s struggles for decolonization and liberation.

They have a residency program in which they share the space with artists and organizers for specific projects, and one of CTC’s main projects is a community food garden, La Huerta, which offers workshops on food sovereignty and supplies fresh food to CTC residents, neighbors and students from the local school.

The Casa Taller Garden. Photo courtesy of Casa Taller Cangrejera.

The following answers were presented by Sugeily Rodríguez Lebrón, Papel Machete Co-Director & Agitarte Program Coordinator.

What are some of the challenges of running your space and how have you been able to deal with those challenges?

“Some of the difficulties of running our DIY space have to do with finding economic resources to feed the projects and keep them going. Our space is situated in Santurce, an urban community that has been suffering from the gentrification wave for decades, and has intensified after the passing of Hurricane María, two years ago. We have encountered many challenges in our struggle against the rapid change of our population and the forced displacement of our community.

We also suffer the physical manifestation of cruel capitalism in increasing living costs, which force us to commit fewer resources for space maintenance and other operations. On the other hand, we are more directly affected, so we are more alert and ready to organize and present a strong resistance. We have managed to continue our art programs through solidarity work and grassroots support.”

What are your hopes and dreams for your space?

“We dream of starting a land trust to purchase spaces and keep them accessible in the community. Owning a space will reinforce our work and allow us to make long term plans. This would also bring more stability for our community of workers, artists, and organizers, and allow us to nurture projects to come.”

An outdoor performance celebrating Casa Taller Cangrejera's 13th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Casa Taller Cangrejera.

What does DIY mean to you?

“Do-it-yourself is an attitude one carries in their work, which implies that we will do it no matter what. It grows out of the necessity of community spaces for the work. Do-it-yourself, in our work, comes from puppetry and object creation, which we build ourselves with repurposed and accessible materials. It is also using our whole being as an instrument that communicates fearless truth and lets us imagine life beyond the oppression we face everyday, a world that can be transformed for the betterment of all.

"To do it by yourself, for us, is collective. It’s ourselves. It’s a way of nourishing that fire we carry, and of agitating by encouraging others to join and overcome individualism, so together we may accomplish freedom.”

Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery (Denver, Colorado)

"yess+love=bliss" by Dorothy Tanner, a work in light from Lumonics Gallery. Photo courtesy of Lumonics Gallery.

Lumonics aims to impact people of all ages in their community via events at the Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery and classes at the Lumonics School of Light Art, all in the same location in Denver.

Their events range from a monthly open house/open mic to holistic events, such as LoveFest with the Oneness Care Community (Astrology, Art, Music, Yoga, Reiki, Aura Readings) and live performance events. The light sculpture studio, dating back to 1966, is among the earliest and longest running light art studios in the U.S. The Lumonics School of Light Art began in 2018, and was being conceived when Lumonics applied for the DIY Fund last year.

The following answers were presented by Barry Raphael, Project Archivist and Administrator of the Lumonics School of Light Art.

How do you think the DIY arts community can better support each other?

“I think Meow Wolf has been a needed catalyst. The early meetings that were organized with the Artist/DIY community has led to a focused project in which people have been encouraged to submit proposals for the upcoming Meow Wolf Denver. It also led to many people in the Denver area meeting each other for the first time, forging new relationships. The Meow Wolf Denver Facebook group has become a kind of bulletin board announcing events and projects.”

What are your hopes and dreams for your space?

“We want to continue presenting events, creating new light and sound installations, and reaching specific groups of people in the community who could benefit from our classes, such as people on the autism spectrum, vets and first responders struggling with PTSD, and those seeking a career in immersive entertainment. Our School is now part of 7 Healing Stars, a 501(c)(3) organization, founded by Dr. Jomar Suarez, a psychiatrist who recognizes the mental health benefits of the School and the Lumonics expression.”

Photo courtesy of Lumonics Gallery.

What does DIY mean to you?

“DIY to me means Dorothy and the late Mel Tanner, the creators of Lumonics, who had a vision of turning their warehouse art studio into a performance art space in Miami in the late 1960s, utilizing their light sculptures, hand-painted slides, overhead projectors, strobe lights, live projection, and the color organ. Blow-up furniture, water beds, mylar on the walls, and light sculptures created specifically for the space made for a powerful setting that has positively impacted thousands of lives over the years, with many noting it as a peak life experience. This was all done with very limited funds. I am part of the crew that volunteered to help them fulfill that vision.”

If you know of a creative community and space that could benefit from Meow Wolf’s DIY Fund, direct them to apply HERE before the October 7, 2019 deadline.

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