● By Jessie Monsivais
By: Jessie Monsivais Photos by: Lillian Reitz
Arts education has proven, time and time again, to be an extraordinarily valuable aspect to a child’s overall schooling experience. With funding for such programming being less than ideal, a local organization was formed. Not only to help raise money for local arts education, but also to bring mindfulness to others about our local culture here in the Coastal Bend – one that has a heavy emphasis on the arts.
That organization is Enrich Local, and they’ve set out to promote cultural awareness in the local community through music, art and cuisine. Leading the local and influential organization are Kirby and Adrian Tello.
“We wanted to focus our energy on creating something that gave back to the community,” says Kirby. “There are already so many great nonprofit organizations here, though, and we didn’t want our cause to get lost in the saturation. So, we formed Enrich Local as a 501 (c)(3), with the ability to work with multiple beneficiaries that support our mission and already have established programs in place.”
Partnering with organizations such as Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, The Ritz Revival, and Chicas Rock has allowed the outcome of Enrich Local to help promote exactly what they set out to do in the first place: bring the local community to the forefront of people’s consciousness, and help other organizations in the process.
The non-profit organization stands as a tool to organize the Corpus Christi Hot Tamale Festival, which raises proceeds for different charitable endeavors every year, mainly focusing on youth and local programs that stress the importance of arts education.
The CC Hot Tamale Festival is one of the flagships through which Enrich Local accomplishes that goal. Proceeds from this year’s 5th annual festival will benefit The Art Museum of South Texas (AMST) Youth Program Initiative: The Garcia Outreach Center. AMST Educators offer off-site programming throughout the year at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center, which is similar to the programming offered at the museum.
“Both Adrian and I recognize the impact that music and arts education had on our overall scholastic success, which is how Enrich Local’s primary goal became fostering cultural South Texas experiences by celebrating and encouraging the unique local art scene within our youth,” says Kirby in response to the decision of choosing AMST as this year’s beneficiary.
On November 23, the 5th Annual Corpus Christi Hot Tamale Festival will once again line Peoples Street with vendors. The air will be filled with the scents of family recipes as locals get the chance to taste the best tamales in town, along with other street fare from Corpus’ finest food trucks. The festival also includes arts and crafts, musical acts, a tamale eating contest, a best tamale contest, and plenty of local shopping.
“It’s THE thing we do. Anyone that does CC Hot Tamale Fest is doing what Enrich Local is,” says Adrian. “It takes the whole team to make it work as a nonprofit. We all live in the community, we all work in the community, and we are all young professionals from many different backgrounds who want to be a part of an organization that adds another thing to do in our city.”
Adrian emphasizes the importance on representing the area, as well. Tamale vendors rely on the holiday season to make a large portion of their yearly budget. Enrich Local makes a point of selecting local tamale vendors, promoting them before the festival, and ensuring that it’s the best possible experience for the vendors, as well as the guests. “It’s great for exposure and it’s perfect timing, because it's right around the holidays when families start busting out the masa.”
Creating an event like the festival has allowed Enrich Local to raise money and help other nonprofits in the area by truly showcasing some of the most beautiful aspects of Corpus Christi’s culture. Through music, arts, makers, vendors, and of course, food, the festival does exactly what the organization’s name would suggest: Enriching the local culture we know and love, and ensuring the appreciation of it.