Knight Arts Challenge People's Choice: Artefactus Aims to Tell Hispanic Stories on Stage

The Knight Arts Challenge South Florida 2015 People's Choice Awards nominees are live. The community can vote now through November 17 via text message for one of four selected Knight Arts Challenge finalists to receive $20,000 to fund their projects. It's a text-to-vote campaign: pick your favorite group, and text their code to 22333. Of the 73 finalists, the four People's Choice nominees are small, emerging groups from different parts of South Florida, all working to make the region a better place to live.

It is often said that life imitates art, but for Eddy Diaz Souza and Artefactus Cultural Project, their goal is to have art imitate life — specifically through theater. Born in Cuba and raised in Venezuela, Souza came to Miami in 2008 and created a digital magazine he called Artefactus, “whose main purpose was to promote and analyze the theatrical activities and the state of the arts in the city,” explains Souza.

Eventually, the small magazine expanded into a full-blown cultural organization operating out of West Kendall. Although the space may be “away from the cultural and traditional center of the city,” as Souza says, the group is still able to provide for its community.

“Artefactus works to offer dance, theater, music concerts, book presentations, and exhibitions of visual arts to the community,” says Souza, adding, “as well as promoting the cultural heritage of our community and its artistic values.” In other words, Souza defines the cultural project as “a creative laboratory — a dynamic place where young artists and adults are grouped together to make sense of creation and serve the community.”

Aside from their usual work of performing for the community, creating workshops, and visiting schools, Artefactus is working on a new project they call MiniTheater, “which brings together singing, acting, dancing, creating writing, and visual arts teachers in order to help create works out of recycled material,” from actual recycled plastic and paper, explains Souza. These creations will then be exhibited at their Artefactus Gallery in Kendall (12302 SW 133rd Ct., Miami).

As a finalist for the People’s Choice, Artefactus is up for $20,000 in winnings. If they were to win, Souza already has a plan of how to put the money to good use: “We would use the award money to develop the project, ‘Tales of Miami,’ which is a proposal that involves the findings of real stories from the Hispanic populations of South Florida.” These stories would then be taken to their creative lab and brought to life through the work of their actors and writers.

“We want to tell these imaginative — and funny — stories in a way that reflects the true cultural of the Hispanics in Miami and in a way that appeals to the youth.”

Quoting the famous Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Souza comments on the reason why the arts and theater are so important to the community: “un pueblo que no ayuda y no fomenta su teatro, si no está muerto, está moribundo” (“a community that does not help or encourage their theater, if not dead, is dying”). “Art, in particular, theater, is like an amplification of our society — art helps us reflect on life and theater reminds us of the stories of our past and speaks to the stories of our future.” 

The Knights Arts Challenge winners will be announced on November 30. You can learn more about the competition at KnightFoundation.org, and about Artefactus Cultural Project at artefactusteatro.org.

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