A city without culture is a dead city. You just live to eat and work. Where there’s no creativity, no spontaneity, it’s a challenge to get your dreams going.
–Gustavo Aranda, High school music teacher
VozFrontera was a program for youth engagement, leadership, and local arts incubation in Nogales, Arizona. It offers documentary arts mentoring with youth, artist- and scholar in-residence programs, and co-working lab space for young leaders and entrepreneurs.
The program was initiated with support from ArtPlace America, which funds projects across the country that place arts and culture as the center of social, physical, and economic change. The $350,000 award provided initial funding for the program, including limited funds for the remodel of the Castro House, former residence of Arizona’s first Mexican-American governor, which was gifted to UA College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and will house VozFrontera and other programs in the future.
The project was informed by a 2017 assessment we conducted for the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to determine community needs and desires in Nogales, Arizona for the Castro House. The assessment revealed a number of pressing issues in Nogales, including: 1) Limited Economic Opportunities, 2) Talent Flight, 3) Downtown Revitalization, 4) Lack of Public Arts/Culture Events and Opportunities, 5) Cross-border Community Building, 6) Public Health. It also revealed key community partners already working to address some of these issues. Some of those partners helped launch VozFrontera.
Here’s a sampling of youth films from DocuNogales, Spring 2019: