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Wednesday , November 14 2018
Home | Tag Archives: el paso community foundation

Tag Archives: el paso community foundation

Free Holiday Movies Return to Plaza Theatre Starting November 18

The free Holiday Movies at the Plaza Theatre return for the eighth year as part of the third annual WinterFest!

The movies are sponsored by Texas Gas Service in partnership with the El Paso Community Foundation, the Plaza Classic Film Festival and El Paso Live.

Volunteer organists Ken Fedorick, Richard Garven and Laurie Koval will perform on the Wyler Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ before each program.

The series opens with Elf, starring Will Farrell, at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 18, followed by a double bill of the 1966 TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Robert Zemeckis’ animated The Polar Express, starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, November 25.

The movies continue two weeks later with 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street, starring then child-actor Natalie Wood, at 3:30 pm Sunday, December 9, followed by a double bill of 1983’s A Christmas Story at 1 p.m. and Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, December 16.

The series concludes with two wintry titles, Disney’s Frozen at 1 p.m. and Ice Age at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, January 6, the last day of WinterFest.

Additionally, 2019 Festival Passes will be on sale for the discounted price of $175 from Black Friday (November 23) to New Year’s Eve (December 31). Next year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival runs August 1 through 11. Keep an eye on their website for details.

Go to and for more information.

Here’s the schedule:

Sunday, November 18

2:30 p.m. — Organist Laurie Koval

3 p.m. — Elf (2003)


Sunday, November 25

2:30 p.m. — Organist Richard Garven

3 p.m. — How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

3:30 p.m. — The Polar Express (2004)


Sunday, December 9

3 p.m. — Organist Ken Fedorick

3:30 p.m. — Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


Sunday, December 16

12:30 p.m. — Organist Ken Fedorick

1 p.m. — A Christmas Story (1983)

3 p.m. — Organist Richard Garven

3:30 p.m.It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


Sunday, January 6

12:30 p.m. — Organist Laurie Koval

1 p.m. — Frozen (2013) 

3 p.m. — Organist Richard Garven

3:30 p.m. — Ice Age (2002)

Sparta to Headline ‘El Paso Forever’ Benefit Concert November 20

Sparta fans will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving week when the El Paso band headlines the El Paso Forever benefit concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 20 on Oregon Street.

The concert is a fundraiser for the El Paso Community Foundation, whose motto is “For Good. For El Paso. Forever.”

Tickets are a $10 donation at the door, or in advance online (just print out your tickets). All proceeds go to the El Paso Community Foundation, which will use the funds to update classrooms in the Borderplex region with computer labs.

Donations also will be accepted during the show.

The benefit concert will take place next to San Jacinto Plaza, between Mills and Main streets, where the Plaza Classic Film Festival outdoor movies are shown.

The El Paso Forever benefit for the El Paso Community Foundation is the finale of a seven-city, eight-day Southern tour for Sparta, which reunited to play a benefit for EPCF last December and has toured throughout 2018.

Members are singer-guitarist Jim Ward, a member of the El Paso Community Foundation board of directors; multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Gonzalez; bassist Matt Miller; and drummer Cully Symington. Sparta recently released the single, Cat Scream.

“It brings me absolute joy to bookend this year of Sparta shows around the US, not only at home, but to benefit the El Paso Community Foundation,” Ward said. “Pitching in a little and having a good night, outside in downtown, is perfect. It’s home.”

It is generously sponsored by Microsoft TechSpark, a national civic program designed to expand economic opportunity and job creation through digital initiatives, including computer science education programs.

“We’re proud to partner with the El Paso Community Foundation on this event to bring everyone together for some fun, and to help ensure that our region’s students have the technology and opportunity to study computer science, one of the fastest- growing job fields today,” said J.J. Childress, manager of Microsoft TechSpark Texas.

El Paso nueva cumbia band Frontera Bugalu and garage rockers Nalgadas also will perform.

Stand With Estela Fund Awards $17K to Help Breast Cancer Fighters

On Thursday, TV News Anchor and cancer fighter Estela Casas presented a $17,500 check to the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation from the Stand With Estela Fund in the El Paso Community Foundation.

The major grant will provide much needed assistance to women fighting breast cancer. Grants will be made in the form of $250 gift cards, which may be used to help with transportation, medical deductibles, wigs, compression sleeves and gloves, and other necessities they might not otherwise be able to afford.

The Stand With Estela Fund was established in the El Paso Community Foundation on September 28, 2017 after Estela announced her second journey with cancer.  In a little over a year, the fund has distributed more than $140,000 to women fighting breast cancer in the El Paso community.

Additionally, the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation has provided more than $11 million in services since its creation in 1996. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cancer in our community with a variety of programs and services for those battling cancer in the El Paso Area.

Those needing assistance may apply online beginning at, and

El Paso Community Foundation Creates Fund for Migrant Families Assistance

The El Paso Community Foundation has created a fund to help local organizations that assist migrant families. Donations may be made to the Migrant Families Relief Fund.

Community-based organizations in El Paso are leading the effort to meet the growing needs of migrant families — children and adults — seeking asylum due to the current conditions in their home countries, particularly in Central America. El Paso, Texas is home to countless immigrants, and has been at the forefront in working with authorities to assist these migrant families.

Currently in El Paso, families are being separated upon apprehension. Migrant children are being placed at a temporary shelter in Tornillo, Texas, 40 miles east of El Paso, and are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Their parents are prosecuted and detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in El Paso.

A donation to the Migrant Families Relief Fund will help provide for short, mid- and long-term needs ranging from basic needs to shelter and legal services. The El Paso Community Foundation will accept donations for all of the services listed below, based on their timing and need.

All credit card and administrative fees will be waived — 100% of donations will pass through to provide direct services, with due diligence performed on the grants by a Nationally-Accredited Community Foundation.

Donations will be distributed to:

• Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services— Provides direct legal services to the immigrant children separated from their families.

• Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center— Provides legal services to the asylum-seeking parents being separated from their families.

• Annunciation House— Provides refuge to migrants.

Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee —Helps pay immigration bonds that release migrants from detention, helping them reunite with their families, avoid bail bond lenders, and improve their chances in immigration court.

Cultivate Examines Pollution, Food, Plants, CO2 Levels

The quarterly Cultivate Forum on local food systems and sustainability will feature three speakers and a short film this Thursday evening.

Cultivate, sponsored by the El Paso Community Foundation, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. The April Forum will feature:


  • “Air Pollution Data Mapping” — By Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller of Agency Architecture, and assistant professors or architecture with Texas Tech University’s College of Architecture El Paso campus.


  • “Food Technology Outreach with Young People: Principles and Success Stories from the EPCC/UTEP STEMGROW Program” — By Paul Hotchkin, biological sciences instructor, El Paso Community College.


  • “Native Plants of the Chihuahuan Desert and the FloraFEST 2018 Native Plant Sale” — By John White, garden curator of the University of Texas at El Paso’sCentennial Museum & Chihuahuan Desert Gardens.


  • Message in a Bottle — 15-minute documentary (2005) by Danny Schmidt, narrated by photographer James Balog (Chasing Ice), about efforts to measure rising Co2 levels.

The forum is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26 in the El Paso Community Foundation Room, 333 North Oregon Street.

Cultivate is a project of the El Paso Community Foundation.  Call 915-533-4020 or email for more information.

Frontera, Community Foundation Enter Partnership in Fund for Conservation

Thursday morning, the Frontera Land Alliance (Frontera) announced the establishment of the Frontera Land Alliance Endowment Fund at the El Paso Community Foundation.

The newly-established Fund will help Frontera support a growing number of projects and programs that maximize its impact on the conservation of El Paso’s water, land and wildlife.

Via a news release, officials with Frontera stated, “With sustained financial support, Frontera can do an even better job of making sure our region’s future generations have pristine open space to treasure and enjoy forever…Frontera believes that everyone should have the ability to live in a healthy community and enjoy a connection with nature.”

Founded in 2004, when community members realized there was an urgent need to preserve some of the important remaining natural and working lands in El Paso and southern New Mexico, Frontera has developed the knowledge and expertise to provide guidance to land owners wanting to maintain the character of their land.

“When land trusts include more people, more lives are improved and, in turn, broader support for conservation is generated. The U.S. population is expected to grow by 100 million people over the next 50 years. This means an ever-increasing pressure to develop more land. Our population is also becoming more diverse which means diverse constituents must be served to stay relevant. In addition to demographic changes, many Americans of all backgrounds are growing up without a strong connection to nature, and that can negatively impact action towards preservation and conservation,” Frontera officials added.

The El Paso Community Foundation was established in 1977 to foster philanthropy and provide a long term endowment to address the unique opportunities and challenges of the El Paso, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juárez region.

Additionally, the foundation provides a wide-range of philanthropic services in the region as a grant maker, convener and leadership organization to the community. Since its founding, the Foundation has granted just under $190 million to the community.

Frontera is the only nationally-accredited 501(c)3 land trust in the El Paso area.

Border AIDS Partnership Grants $55,000 to Local HIV Organizations

The Border AIDS Partnership will award three local organizations from the Greater El Paso area and Cd. Juárez  a total of $55,000 next week.

BAP is a binational, tri-state collaborative that provides funding for HIV/AIDS education and prevention activities in El Paso, Southern New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez.

Border AIDS Partnership started as a project El Paso Community Foundation in 1994, and in January 2007 became a 501(c)(3).

Via a news release, officials with BAP say, “BAP continues the critical work of funding community-based organizations in our region as an independent nonprofit…since 1996, we have distributed, in the form of effective grants, more than $2 million to support innovative HIV prevention programs.”

The ceremony will take place Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 10 a.m. at the Foundation Room, 333 North Oregon Street in Downtown El Paso.

The organizations receiving funding this year are:   

Programa Compañeros of Cd. Juárez — Three programs have been granted in accordance to Border AIDS Partnership’s mission: 

  • Women in Action ($10,000) — A peer-led program targeting high risk women with multiple sex partners. 
  • Gay Youth Without Borders ($10,000) — Outreach to young homosexuals, targeting gay youth at popular gathering places such as bars, clubs, spas aesthetics and gay bonding zones. 
  • Health Navigators to Access Primary Care for People Living with HIV/AIDS ($10,000) — Targets people living with HIV and aims to provide patient navigation services, peer counseling, social work and psychological help. 

Centro Caritativo, Cd. Juárez   

  • $13,000 — Rendering support to the most vulnerable populations affected by HIV/AIDS since 2001.  Fighting the vulnerability of persons living with AIDS. The project consists of purveyance of decent accommodations to about 40 patients, appropriate nutrition three times a day, nursing and medical primary care, antiretroviral adherence assistance and monitoring. 

University Medical Center Women’s Health Center  

  •  Teen Advisory Board TAB CARES ($12,000) — Recruits area school students and trains them to increase awareness and prevent infections through their Teen Advisory Board, a peer education program. Teens and parents are trained to help spread messages through social media platforms and in classroom presentations.   


El Paso Community Foundation’s Spirit of Giving Campaign Underway

The El Paso Community Foundation’s Spirit of Giving campaign returns for its 29th year, and it’s never been easier to give to someone in need, as the Spirit of Giving trees are all over town — and online.

The trees are adorned with snowflake tags that represent the stories of people — children, elderly, and disabled — in need. Donors simply pick a tag, buy a gift, wrap it with the tag, and return it to the Spirit of Giving location where it was purchased.

To give on-line, donors can visit the foundation’s virtual tree,  click the tag of the story and pay for the gift; the El Paso Community Foundation will ensure that it is delivered.

Donors can also print the tag, purchase the gift, wrap it and deliver it, with the tag, to our office at 333 North Oregon Street on the 2nd Floor. Office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Friday, and the deadline to drop off gifts to our office is Monday, December 18.

Spirit of Giving trees are located at Cielo Vista Mall, Sunland Park Mall, and GECU/GECU Investment Services/Members Trust Company locations — Viscount and Airway; Rojas and Zaragoza; Vista del Sol and Yarbrough; Transmountain and Dyer; and Resler and Helen of Troy.

Drop-off deadline at the GECU/GECU Investment Services/Members Trust locations is 5 p.m. Friday, December 15. It’s Monday, December 18 for Cielo Vista Mall and Wednesday, December 20 for Sunland Park Mall.

More than 55,000 gifts have been distributed since 1989.

The El Paso Community Foundation’s Spirit of Giving is sponsored by Cielo Vista Mall/Simon Malls, Sunland Park Mall, GECU/GECU Investment Services/Members Trust Company, KTSM NewsChannel 9 and iHeartRadio of El Paso.

‘Sparta’ Set for Benefit Concert for El Paso Community Foundation

It’s been approximately five years since Sparta has played a live show in El Paso. The band is marking its return by playing a concert to benefit the El Paso Community Foundation at Tricky Falls on Saturday, December 16, 2017.

“I’m excited to continue working with The El Paso Community Foundation to use live music, which I love dearly, to raise money for our community. Our hope is to continue developing a program that balances music and charity to benefit multiple areas of need in the El Paso/Juarez area,” said Jim Ward of Sparta and board member of the El Paso Community Foundation.

Tickets for this benefit show will be free and must be reserved at beginning on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 12p MST.

Donations will be accepted at the door. Local band Emily Davis and The Murder Police will be opening the show.

New Sparta merchandise is now available at Sparta’s new single, “Graveyard Luck,” is now available on iTunes and other streaming services.

Rolling Rock Presents: Sparta Live at Tricky Falls:

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tickets: FREE, Available for reservation at at 12p MST on Wednesday, November 15, 2017  Donations accepted at the door.

Border AIDS Partnership to Host Día de los Muertos Spotlight

“Art Celebrates Life” is the theme of this year’s 12th annual Border AIDS Partnership (BAP) Día de los Muertos Spotlight, a fine art silent auction and skull decorating competition in observance of the Day of the Dead.

The local nonprofit’s event is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, November 4 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon Street, across from San Jacinto Plaza.

“Our twelfth silent art auction and fifth skull decorating competition is a fun way for local artists and the community to join together to provide critical resources for people from El Paso, Ciudad Juárez and Las Cruces who are battling HIV/AIDS,” said Floyd Johnson, event committee chairman and president of BAP.

Past Spotlights have featured original work by area artists such as Margarita Cabrera, Linda Hains, Jesus ‘Cimi’ Alvarado, Erica Marin, Ben Sáenz, Victor Navarro, Miguel Bonilla, Suzi Davidoff, and Horace Mayfield.

In 1994, the El Paso Community Foundation and the US/Mexico Border Health Association created a local HIV/AIDS partnership to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations in the region working on this critical health problem.

With support from AIDS United, the collaboration became the Border AIDS Partnership, a bi-national and tri-state funding collaborative that has been providing funding for HIV/AIDS education and prevention activities in El Paso, Southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juárez. BAP now operates as an independent 501c3 nonprofit.

Since 1996, the Border AIDS Partnership has distributed more than $2 million to support innovative HIV prevention and education programs.

Previous grantees include Centro Caritativo Para Atención de Enfermos de Sida, University Medical Center of El Paso’s Teen Advisory Board, Programa Compañeros, support group HIVida, Actúa y Toma El Control, Opportunity Center for the Homeless, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Families & Youth, Inc.

Tickets are $20 and include heavy hors d’oeuvres, entertainment, and the opportunity to bid on original artwork. It is a juried show. Tickets are on sale at the El Paso Community Foundation, 333 N. Oregon (second floor), and will be available at the door.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Día de los Muertos Spotlight, call 915-533-4020, visit, or find them on Facebook.

What: Border AIDS Partnership annual fundraiser featuring  silent art auction work and skull decorating competition by noted artists

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 6–9 p.m.

Where: El Paso Community Foundation Room (EPCF), 333 N. Oregon

Jewel Box Series Applications are Due July 28

Applications for the fourth season of the El Paso Community Foundation Jewel Box Series at the Philanthropy Theatre are now being accepted.

In its first three seasons, the Jewel Box Series has hosted programs by a number of area artists and groups, including Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, actor/playwright Camilla Carr, the Border Theatre, the El Paso Society for Musicians of the Future, Ted Karber Jr., Scaffolding Theatre, Tumbleweed Dance Collective, Los Actores, Eden Enterprises, and Impact|Programs of Excellence.

The Jewel Box Series is designed to foster and showcase community talent in an inspiring atmosphere that is part of the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Centre.

The El Paso Community Foundation partnered with El Paso Live to help ease the financial burden of producing a show in the sparkling little jewel box we call the Philanthropy Theatre, its name inspired by all who helped build it.

The intimate space seats 191 and is ideal for live theater, dance, music, multi-media and other productions. The proscenium stage is 12.5-feet deep and 22-feet across.

Performances are on the second weekend of each month; and the fourth season will launch in September 2017 and run monthly through May 2018.

The deadline for submissions is July 28, 2017. Submission forms are available at

Kathleen Turner to appear at Plaza Classic Film Festival

Academy Award and Tony Award nominee Kathleen Turner will appear at the 10th anniversary edition of the El Paso Community Foundation’s Plaza Classic Film Festival.

The two-time Golden Globe Award winner will sit down for an on-stage interview before a showing of the Francis Ford Coppola-directed Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) at 7 p.m. Friday, August 4 in the Plaza Theatre.

She’ll return to the Plaza stage the next day to appear with another box-office hit, Romancing the Stone (1984), at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 5.

Additionally, Miss Turner will appear for an autograph signing from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, August 5 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon Street, across from San Jacinto Plaza.

Turner, known for her intense performances and sensuously husky voice, was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the time-traveling Peggy Sue Bodell in Peggy Sue Got Married. She won a Golden Globe for playing romance novelist Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone.

She also is known for the movies Body Heat, Crimes of Passion, Prizzi’s Honor and The War of the Roses, and for providing the voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She received Tony nominations for her performances in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway. Her TV credits include Friends and Californication.

Kathleen Turner joins animation legends Don Bluth and Gary Goldman as special guests at this year’s 10th anniversary Plaza Classic Film Festival. Bluth, an El Paso native, and Goldman will appear Aug. 12-13.

Tickets for the more than 90 Plaza Classic Film Festival movies will go on sale July 7. Announced titles include The Graduate, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Singin’ in the Rain, Psycho, Jaws and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Festival passes and teen Film Club passes are available at and 915-533-4020.

‘Local Flavor’ Selections Announced for Upcoming Plaza Classic Film Festival

On Saturday, the El Paso Community Foundation’s 10th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival announced the selections for this year’s Local Flavor showcase.

Local Flavor, generously sponsored by the Texas Film Commission, is the region’s largest showcase of independently made shorts, features, animated, documentaries, music videos, and experimental films.

Previous Local Flavor showcases have included works by At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez, El Paso filmmaker Zach Passero, cinematographer Ellie Ann Fenton, and NMSU Creative Media Institute faculty members Ilana Lapid and Ross Marks.

The 10th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival is August 3-13, 2017 in and around the Plaza Theatre.

Here’s this year’s list of programs:

The Good, The Bad, The Indie, Vol. 13
8 p.m.
Friday, August 4 | Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon

Game Over (Oscar Moreno)
Whiskey in a Glass (Orlando Matos)
Art as a weapon (Luis Gamboa)
Timer (Juan Jose Vargas)
Kompadres (Robert Holguin)
Vintage Views: Better Life (Angel Rodriguez)
Hal Marcus Life and Art (Mac Snodgrass)
What Else? (Julian Alexander)
A Day in the Life of an Egg (Larry D. Powers)
Are You There? (Jon-Carlo Diaz)
Manny Rivas’ Peleliu (David Guerin)
Let’s Pretend (Sherwin Lau)
Nightwalkers (Tito Arenal)
My Lost Cat (Andrew Barahona)
Night Shift (Luis Gamboa)

The Heart Outright
Directed by Ross Marks
7:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 5
Philanthropy Theatre
Post-screening Q&A with director Ross Marks, writer Mark Medoff, producer David Witt and production designer Tiffany Figueroa

Paranoid Flux
Written and directed by Anthony Salgado
10 p.m.
Saturday, August 5
Philanthropy Theatre

TBA/Reel Authentico Winners
2:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 6
Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon
Will include the top three winners from the Downtown Management District’s Reel Authentico film contest.

Shorts I
8 p.m. – Friday, August 11  | Foundation Room, 333 North Oregon

A Family (Chris Hanna)
He Said (Tara Lynn Orr)
Human Dropout (Mark Martinez)
Common Man (Alex Refaeian)
Amor Vale (Manny Rey)
Rebuilding EPCON (Victor Mendez)

Directed by Matthew Valdovinos
10 p.m.
Friday, August 11
Philanthropy Theatre

Shorts II
8 p.m.
Saturday, August 12 | Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon

Pitch Black (Chris Hanna)
El Dragon (Krisstian de Lara)
The Eliminadora (Ana Garcia)
Mayra (Aide Rodriguez and Robert Robles)
The History of Magic (Dano Johnson and Jose Gonzalez)
WINDOWS (Maru Buendia-Senties)
For You (Lluvia Almanza)
Mosca (Lizette Barrera)
Nacido De Nuevo (Evan Kaufmann)

Plaza Classic Film Camp Movies
2:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 13
Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon
Featuring projects by animation and live-action student filmmakers in the third annual *Plaza Classic Film Camp, sponsored by **OneSource Federal Credit Union

Roderick Artspace Lofts wins Award from Development Trade Magazine

El Paso’s Roderick Artspace Lofts, a partnership of the El Paso Community Foundation and Artspace Projects, Inc., has received an Award of Merit from a leading trade magazine.

Builder and Developer magazine announced the award for the Roderick Artspace Lofts in the category of “Best Affordable Housing Community for 60 to 100 dwelling units per acre.” It is one of four top vote-getters in the category, and one of only five Texas projects among the nearly 200 award winners from around the world.

“The El Paso Community Foundation is thrilled with the award, which reflects a commitment to quality exhibited by every member of the team,” said Eric Summerford Pearson, President and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation.  “This award should really be dedicated to Chris Cummings and Katherine Brennand, whose vision brought the idea of the development forward.”  Chris’s father, Chris Cummings, Sr., gave the land where the Roderick Artspace Lofts is located.

The Roderick Artspace Lofts, located at 601 N. Oregon, were built by Jordan Foster Construction and was designed by Matthew Meier and Bill Helm, a partnership of HHL Architects from Buffalo, New York, and Las Cruces-based ASA Architects.

Mr. Helm has since formed his own architecture firm, In Situ Architects in El Paso.

The artists lofts were named for the Roderick Family and its generations of philanthropy through the El Paso Community Foundation.  The lofts opened in January 2017.

In addition to housing artists of various media, the Roderick’s commercial spaces include Fab Lab and the Nomu Café.

Students Lead EPCC Partnership with VIVA! El Paso

For almost 50 years, El Paso Community College (EPCC) has played a significant role in the culture and lifestyle of El Paso. Since 2016 this has not been truer than the partnership forged with the El Paso Community Foundation (EPCF) to produce VIVA! El Paso.

Now celebrating its 40th year in production, VIVA! has become a summertime theatrical staple for visitors to the southwest and residents alike. Through theater, song and dance, VIVA! shares the complex history and makeup of the area.

“El Paso is the multi-cultural capital of the world,” said Keith Townsend, EPCC Instructor and VIVA! El Paso Artistic Director, “VIVA! shows that we do not divide.”

The most important aspect of EPCC’s involvement in VIVA! is the participation of its students.

The EPCC Theater program has a long history in educating young actors in all areas of bringing a theater production to life. A great example is Erick Canales. He is the lead male role in this year’s production, coming back as different characters through El Paso’s history.

An EPCC Theater major, Canales said it’s fun being someone else. Theater is in his blood; he plans to become a professional actor and then proceed into directing and teaching.

Canales knew VIVA! was for him when he heard Keith Townsend was directing. “Keith is always there for the students,” said Canales. “He is there when they have doubts, telling them that they can do it.”

The EPCC Theater program impacts all students who have attended EPCC. The want to come back always exists. EPCC and Western Kentucky University graduate, Camille Acosta returns to VIVA! for a second year.

In this year’s production she narrates segments of the play as the Spirit of Earth. Acosta enjoys working on VIVA! “it has created a new pipeline for El Paso actors,” she said. Acosta plans to try her acting skills in New York and Los Angeles. She sees herself as a teacher someday.

Acosta has fond memories of her days at EPCC.

“Since the age of 15, I performed in Keith Townsend’s productions at EPCC. All the teachers care so much for you; they want you to succeed.”

When you mention theater in El Paso, the name of Keith Townsend is sure to follow. Through VIVA! and all his productions, Townsend encourages his students to give back to the audience, to the community. He chose to make El Paso his home and has spread theater throughout local high schools and EPCC.

He jumped at the chance to lead VIVA! El Paso when the opportunity arose from the EPCC and El Paso Community Foundation partnership. “The Foundation understands the performing arts,” Townsend said. “The promotion team at El Paso Live put students into a learning opportunity at every aspect of the theater production.”

VIVA! El Paso, now in its 40 th year, will light up McKelligon Canyon Fridays and Saturdays through July 29th. Remembering its multi-cultural heritage, two performances on July 21 st and 22 nd will be presented in Spanish.

The strength of the production can be seen in its makeup; many are former El Pasoans who have returned after reaching fame in the world of entertainment. Playwright Marty Martin went on to Broadway with much success, but now finds joy in the work he has done with the new VIVA! El Paso.

Cody Ritchie, Musical Director, has worked in El Paso theater for decades. He has partnered with Keith Townsend on many EPCC productions.

Famed Rock musician, Jim Ward has lent his hand in the musical score of the play. Ward is nationally known through his work with the bands Sparta and At The Drive In.

Dance is a very important part of this year’s VIVA! because of the work of Choreographer, Jaime Carrasco.

Through 400 years, 390 costumes and more than 100 participants, VIVA! El Paso shows the Borderland at its best. EPCC creates a college-going culture by engaging students inside and outside of the classroom. VIVA! El Paso is just one example of EPCC’s commitment to strengthen its partnership with the community.