Proposed Programming at the Alameda Theater Splits Cultura

Print Share on LinkedIn Comments More
A partnership among the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and Texas Public Radio is in the works that would involve rehabilitating the Alameda Theater.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

The Alameda Theater is located at 318 W. Houston St. in downtown San Antonio.

Texas Public Radio recently received its largest private gift – $2 million from The Gambrinus Company – to create a black box theater inside the Alameda Theater.

As a Chicana artist with two decades of experience in Latinx theater, I was disappointed to hear this. TPR is not a Mexican-American organization and should not be responsible for cultural programming at the Alameda.

I sent emails to both TPR and the City of San Antonio. Assistant City Manager Lori Houston responded by saying the historic Alameda Theater will be completely restored.

Yes, true.

The City has been trying to restore the theater for well over a decade. The interesting thing about Houston’s and TPR‘s email responses is that they both distinguished between the historic Alameda Theater and the non-historic Alameda building. Apparently TPR ‘s black box theater will be located in the latter part.

Since it will in the non-historic part, Chicanos have nothing to complain about, right?


According to the City, TPR will be responsible for programming the black box theater in the non-historical part of the building, while the Alameda Theater Conservancy will manage programming in the historic Alameda Theater. You know, the big chingón space that will be too chingón expensive to produce in.

I’m a triste teatrista with a 20-year history in producing, directing, writing, and performing Latinx theater – but with limited access to a City-supported black box such as the Tobin Center’s Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater. I once directed a play there – ay que lovely a space! – but it was not the play I wanted to direct. The Tobin’s rental fees are just too expensive for a local, independent teatrista and inaccessible to theater organizations as well. While the Tobin has a resident symphony, ballet, and opera, it does not host a resident theater company.

TPR’s black box theater also may not become home to a theater company, and community access dates will be limited.

Stated TPR in its email to me: “Indeed, the TPR black box theater will primarily be used for TPR events, but will also be made available for use by community organizations, when schedule permits.”


While I’m a fan of Terry Gross, David Sedaris, and National Public Radio, I am not a fan of how our local affiliate, TPR, has programmed in a Latinx-majority city. And now it is moving into our historic cultural corazón? Where Cantinflas and Maria Felix gave abrazos to Westside gente, our Chicano audiences?

TPR‘s current Latino programming, including the notable Fronteras, is not enough. How much Latino coverage can a 30-minute program fit? Further, although I am a fan of current full-time Latinx employees Norma Martinez and Joey Palacios, does TPR plan to increase Latino programming once they move into the Alameda?

I challenge TPR to provide programming that reflects our 60 percent Latino y más majority population in San Antonio. That includes, but is not limited to, 60 percent representation on the board, administration, on-air personalities, and on-air and black box programming. That’s what it’s going to take for me to buy into the idea that TPR, a non-Chicano organization, is moving into our cultural corazón.


32 thoughts on “Proposed Programming at the Alameda Theater Splits Cultura

  1. Have you ever thought about matters that transcend your race and explore the universal human condition?

    “Beware of perras who bark at the mailman.” -borges

    • The universal human condition is explored through individual stories, including stories that depict those families and communities whose racial and cultural identities are different from one’s own. For far too long, one “majority” cultural identity–economically secure, white, heterosexual, religious, consumerist–has presumed to represent all, including those whose lives are vastly different. Other voices have not been given opportunities to be heard, except by “DIY” efforts. I agree that TPR needs to prioritize outreach to others besides their traditional base when they have been given the responsibility to program a downtown theater space.

      • ““For far too long, one “majority” cultural identity–economically secure, white, heterosexual, religious, consumerist–has presumed to represent all, including those whose lives are vastly different. Other voices have not been given opportunities to be heard, except by “DIY” efforts. ””

        that’s a very insolent way of describing the culture that people from all over the world desperately want to become a part of both legally and illegally.

      • I see much more diversity embraced by the two English speaking countries full of “economically secure, white, heterosexual, religious, consumerists” than I do of the 19 Spanish speaking countries below them. Both in demographics and culturally. When will they ever return the favor in kind al sur de la frontera?

        • you don’t understand. . .it’s a cultural imperialist, la Raza, based mentality she advocates for and cares about. where are major cities al sur de la frontera 60% Anglo with the culture representing them accordingly??

  2. Stop. If the Latin American community cared so deeply, they’d have raised the funds to renovate the theater and program it however they liked. I’m Hispanic, I was born and raised in San Antonio and I know I am not alone in voicing my displeasure in every damn thing having a latin/spanish/Hispanic/Mexican/Chicano/Tejano slant to it. This city needs to broaden its cultural offerings. Enough of everything trying to be geared towards one ethnicity. Stop acting like there isn’t already enough as there is.

    But back to my main point. Do t cry foul now, after money was donated to a group and that group then invested in the theater. You and the rest of the Chicano/chicana arts community should have done something years ago. Not complain after the fact.

    Also, stop trying to make Latinx happen. It’s not happening.

        • Mansplaining is progressive term used so that one can upend your worldview so that they then viciously attack anyone who doesn’t accept their progessivenew term.

        • I can’t even take you serious when you use terms like latinx and mansplaining. This era of internet living humans is producing some of the worst “play victim” and overly sensitive people imaginable.

          Please, tell me what I mamsplained to you?

          My god, it’s just so pathetic.

          • Yeah, heaven forbid that women and minority groups stand up for themselves and tell those in power how they want to be spoken to. Just take what you are given and shut your traps.

  3. TPR is not moving into the original, historic theater. The area where TPR will be was constructed a few years ago as the backstage working area for the theater that was to be restored. Sufficient funds have not yet been raised for restoring the original theater. When that happens, the programming will be totally different than TPR’s programming and will be done by a completely different group. The Alameda will still be the Alameda once funds are finally raised to bring it back to life. No one is taking anything away from the history of the building.

    • Thanks for your comment. One of my arguments is that the very division of the space (historic vs. non-historic) is problematic to the integrity of the building’s legacy.

      • What, exactly, is “the integrity of the building’s legacy” supposed to mean?
        The Alameda was built during the good old days of segregation and Spanish being forbidden at school. I suspect the MAGA minions want to return to those times but don’t you think the rest of us should be better than that?
        Knowing TPR, I predict the group who are in charge of theater programming will turn out to be very inclusive. Looking forward to seeing some of your work there.

        • Did you listen to the teleconference between MAGA and the president of Mexico. You and your racist notions are being left in the dust

  4. I’m Hispanic and I am from SA. Oh and sorry I’m a male. Just because I have an opinion does not mean I am “mansplaining”. Such a stupid word.

    I understand the point the author is trying to make, but I think it’s dangerous to further divide ourselves instead of being greatful that a gorgeous historic building downtown is FINALLY getting the love and attention it deserves. It’s great to raise points and awareness on diversity issues, however it’s counterproductive to seemingly draw a line in the sand.

    With this current administration, we need to be especially understanding and kind to one another. It seems this article was a little offensive…at least to me. And I’m Latino!

  5. This article has no clear point to make. All I hear is uber-angst.

    How does utilizing one part of the build for TPR affect Utilization of the larger space? There are plenty of theatres around town. Come off the “chingon expensive”

    While were at it… LatinX? Want to be progressive? Remove the masculine words you have in your attempt to be cool spanglish article. Corazón y abrazos son palabras masculinas…

    • Agree with J Hern. Well said.
      I am looking forward to some diverse programming, black box theatres are much more intimate formats. I always enjoyed the black box productions in the basement at the Alley in Houston.
      Maybe a hint that I find the above article offensive is that I spend many years in Houston. A very diverse city. I lived and taught in Mexico for many years and never felt in any way that I was different than anyone, my neighbors, my students, my fellow teachers. I never saw discrimination in Mexico, except I am sad to say among the wealthy Mexicans toward the indigenous people whom I admired and taught me much. Only living in SA has made me aware that I am a white person. Nowhere have I lived where your skin tone seems to matter most. I have friends from all backgrounds, with skin tones of every shade, they are my friends because there is something we have that bonds us.
      Equality is a wonderful gift. Viva TPR!

  6. Thank you for your thoughts, Marisela, they have made me reflective enough to ask:
    Will y’all team up with TPR, and explain how they can become more Mexican-American / LatinX / Chicana-Chicano, in their programming?
    Also, you did direct at The Tobin, but it is expensive. Will y’all team up with more sponsors / producers, to allay much more of that cost, and even reach out to us, the general public (such as here, through Nicolas Frank?), with hat in hand, such as with a GoFundMe? Sounds like our Tobin space is worth it.
    Can you go to other cultural spaces in the meantime, and even collaborate with the troupes in place (e.g. The Vex, Classic Theatre, NW Vista College, SAC, The Carver, etc.)?
    How will y’all get us white-bread boys and our money, to your cultural space(s), such as the Guadalupe?

    • Guadalupe does want your white money but not your white a–. I gave money and wanted to volunteer and was told to leave my information and someone would contact me. About all the contacting I get is current programs and “send me more money”.

  7. Interesting read. While, your right, TPR is not a Mexican-American organization and should not be responsible for cultural programming at the Alameda theater. TPR is the organization that just donated 2 million dollars for renovation, something that no Mexican-American organization or person has done in the decade long search for renovation funding, also TPR never stated that they would be responsible for cultural programming, and why should they? You stated it yourself, “TPR will be responsible for programming the black box theater in the NON-HISTORICAL part of the building, while the Alameda Theater Conservancy will manage programming in the historic Alameda Theater.” The When someone gives 2 million dollars to renovate everything and only wants a non-historic theater to host events and shows on a smaller scale. Be excited for that news, don’t be against the grain on something thats going to bring enjoyment and renovation to part of the downtowns history. Something that you, your colleagues, your peers and San Antonio 60% latino/latina y mas population hasn’t done. With that 20 years+ experience you have, you should have understood from the start. If you don’t fund it, then you really don’t have any say so in the matter. Want to make a difference, don’t complain about it, step up and do it. You fight for what you want and if you want a truly latino/latina theater to host latino/latina cultural plays y mas, then make it happen. You don’t need The Alameda theater or Tobin to do that. It’s easy to talk the talk and give your opinion after the fact but to be a truly chignon y chingona, you step up and walk the walk and do the job yourself. Your never too late to create a theater or anything from your had work.

  8. Why is brown-on-everything racism okay in SA? It’s one of the many things holding this city back. This article is just another example.

  9. I am certain when TPR approached the Gambrinus Beer Corporation, they used the majority-minority city card. “We’ll program for the underserved Latino majority community.” To that end, they pledged to name the new theater black box “The Carlos and Marlu Alvarez Theater.” Alvarez already funded the black box at the Tobin so maybe he was given the same song and dance to make sure there would be a Latino presence. Or maybe not. Ms. Barrera should speak to the Gambrinus folks and find out why they are allowing the Latino community to be divided by giving funding to organizations that actually do little for the Mexican and Mexican American community. Might you want to protest his brands of beer or find a middle ground that the company would be amenable to asking for TPR and the Tobin to provide more community representation in these cultural spaces. And don’t expect your Mayor and City Council (which is majority Latino) to back you up.
    They’ve already put $26 million to revitalize the area. And in effect didn’t save any of the historical shops or businesses that were part and parcel of the culture you speak of. And if Mr. Alvarez is such a successful and proud Mexican, why not name the theater after Maria Felix or Cantinflas? Direct your concerns to and see if that makes a difference. Suerte. Good Luck.

    • Did you listen to the teleconference between MAGA and the president of Mexico. You and your racist notions are being left in the dust

    • Irony? I don’t see it. They’re mainstream businessmen, many Republican, who do not want to be pidgeon-holed with the Latinx crowd.

    • You mean beer “barons”, right? And yes, they don’t have to do anything but sell watered down beer at a ridiculous price. However, since Alvarez doesn’t want to be seen as an Mexican interloper siding with the Latino majority in this town, he puts his money in these projects that make him welcomed in the White privileged ‘progressive” community. I’m afraid he doesn’t see what they say behind his back. And certainly the Latino community isn’t impressed by his selling out to the white establishment but failing to provide funding for at risk barrio kids after school and stay in school programs. Sad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *