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A sampling of folklife and cultural tourism projects in the U.S.
Case Study: South Bronx Latin Music Tour
City Lore: The New York Center for Urban Folk Culture and the Point Community Development Corporation
The South Bronx Latin Music Tour is now being developed by City Lore: The New York Center for Urban Folk Culture in partnership with the Point Community Development Corporation and the Bronx Tourism Council.
The idea for the tour came out of work related to "Place Matters," an ongoing City Lore project devoted to identifying and documenting places around New York that have been nominated by New Yorkers for historical and cultural significance. According to Marcy Reaven, City Lore's Managing Director, the Place Matters project brought to light "an amazing number of places in the Bronx and East Harlem connected to the history of Latin music in the city." These sites include an elementary school on Kelly Street in the Bronx attended by many Latin jazz greats, Casa Amadeo, a record store which has been critical to Latin music in the city, and the Tropicana Club, which was once the most elegant Latin club in the Bronx.
While the role of New York in the development of Latin jazz has been widely acknowledged, this history has not been connected to the actual places where it happened. Even Bronx neighborhood residents in Hunts Point, Longwood, and Mott Haven only had limited knowledge of this aspect of their local history. To explore this history further, City Lore partnered with The Point Community Development Corporation, which had already begun investigating the possibility of opening a Latin club in the Bronx. City Lore and the Point jointly received funding for the South Bronx Latin Music Project, a three-year project documenting the history of and bringing to public attention the contributions of these now senior musicians, who contributed significantly to the development of Latin jazz forms such as mambo and cha-cha-cha.
City Lore and the Point, along with the Bronx Tourism Council and the Bronx Economic Development Corporation, recently received $25,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts' Arts and Cultural Tourism Program. The funds will be used to develop a South Bronx Latin Music tour based on existing Project research and to set up a tour operations infrastructure at the Point to market and produce the tour. The Bronx Tourism Council will assist in connecting the Point with pre-arranged bus tour groups already visiting the Bronx; the Point would provide these groups with a "step-on" guide who would give a ninety-minute tour as well as a luncheon and live music and dance presentation at the Point's cafe.
Part of the purpose of the tour is to increase commerce to featured businesses such as Casa Amadeo. Profits from the tour would be used to develop a marketplace in the Point's main corridor; the goods sold there, including scarves, post cards, t-shirts, and the like, would also be available to those taking the tours. The Point would also book tours dedicated specifically to this theme, and depending on size, these participants would be transported either in buses or in vans.
City Lore's role in the project has been to develop a tour narrative based on the existing taped interviews. It is creating a series of "stories" that tour guides will draw on, and compiling an annotated resource guide, a model script and suggestions on what to talk about at different points along the tour route. Background resource materials will be provided in separate binders. Angel Rodriguez, musician and Point staff member, will hire community members who know about music and who have worked with the Point in the past to give the tours.
The first tour will be piloted in collaboration with Manhattan's 92nd Street YMCA, which already has a popular series of New York City tours. They also plan to give cultural heritage bus tours to inform tourism professionals on the possibilities for tourism in the Bronx.
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