Palenke Arts Throws a Party – Voices from Monterey Bay


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The Palenke Arts Festival Returns For Its Fifth Year, Bringing A Multicultural Mix Of Performing Artists To Laguna Grande Park In Seaside | Provided

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By Kathryn McKenzie

An annual festival of music, art and culture in Seaside has even more resonance this year, testifying to the resilience and courage in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The Palenke Arts Festival, now in its fifth year, takes place this Sunday, June 13, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Laguna Grande Park. The Free Multicultural Celebration of the Arts is hosted by Palenke Arts, a multicultural arts center offering low cost, free music, dance and art classes and concerts to the Seaside community.

The arts festival is co-sponsored by the Town of Seaside, the Seaside Fire Department and the Visiting Nurse Association, which will host a free vaccination clinic offering individual injections to Johnson & Johnson.

Voices of Monterey Bay is a media sponsor of the event and is also working with Palenke Arts to record the performances and present them in an online popup event in the near future.

Palenke Arts executive director Juan Sánchez says the arts festival is a celebration of determination in the face of adversity.

“Palenke Arts has helped the Seaside community recover from a devastating year,” he wrote in an email. “The pandemic has taken lives, jobs, homes and joy from all of us, and yet our small and powerful organization has decided that we will survive.

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West African drum group Tam Tam Sacré will be part of the Palenke Arts Festival lineup this Sunday | Provided

“Using art, music, dance, resilience, creativity and the support of many (funders, community partners, staff and volunteers), we managed to produce eight virtual concerts, organize 700 classes private piano via Zoom, learning four different dance choreographies and recording three of the music videos… and on Sunday we celebrate that resilient spirit. “

The popular organization takes its name from palenque, the Spanish word for platform or arena, and its goal is to build a better community through the arts.

The festival is a testament to the mix and fusion of cultures that are part of the seaside scene. Sánchez notes that there will be several different performances showcasing African American culture, including West African percussion by Senegalese artist Abdoulaye Diallo, Mozambican singer-songwriter Jeremias Zunguze, gospel artist. John Nash, hip hop dance teacher Quianna Summerhill and Afro-Brazilian group SambaDá.

The award-winning SambaDá, an audience favorite, is based on Brazil’s rich musical traditions but also references salsa and cumbia, and playfully mixes them with funk and reggae beats.

Also on display will be the student ensembles of Palenke Arts, which include the Bilingual Youth Choir, Hip Hop Dancers, Jazz Workshop and West African Percussion and Dance Group Tam Tam Sacré, with an appearance special by members of the Monterey Peninsula Gospel Community Choir led by Nash and a blessing ceremony by the Aztec dance group Yaocuauhtli Danza Cultural.

Taco trucks, arts and crafts vendors, art demonstrations, and arts activities for kids are all part of the celebration. Participants can bring blankets and low cut lawn chairs to enjoy the day. Admission is free, but donations to benefit from Palenke Arts multicultural arts classes and workshops will be graciously accepted.

Due to the Monterey County Department of Health’s COVID regulations, there will be limits to the site’s capacity, and those in attendance are encouraged to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

More information about Palenke Arts is available at palenkearts.com.

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