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For Barrio, Creative Placekeeping is more than a philosophy. For us it is a commitment to work closely with neighbors in our areas of impact to make sure trouble areas are reignited with life.

Projects August - September

Why Art?

A philosophy in action!

We have witnessed the transformational power of  creative placekeeping and neighbor empowerment. We know that when a neighbor connects with their space and feel ownership of it, they begin to develop roots.

We found that art is able to build quicker bridges and connects people in a more meaningful way respecting a community's makeup, culture, and history.

We engage neighbors through surveys or community meetings to find their perceptions of a particular space. We have embedded movement and participatory activities to make sure the majority of voices are heard.

In a survey of our area of impact, neighbors declared that they wanted to see more art activities in the South of Penn area. To address this, we are connecting local, young, nontraditional artists with their neighbors in non traditional spaces.

Our Creative Placekeepiing efforts in the South of Penn and Reading Iron Playground are made possible by the generous support of the Wyomissing Foundation, and supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our green spaces initiative is funded through the County of Berks.

Do I need to

bring any


No, Barrio will supply you with everything you need, from brushes to paper, to water!

How young can a child be to

We encourage families to bring any child of any age. Our art projects are for everyone!

Puedo ir si


hablo español?

Claro que si. En nuestros programas siempre hay alguien que le podra traducir las instrucciones de los maestros.

Are you an Artist?

You are one of us! 

Barrio defines artists as anyone who is a vehicle for creativity, someone who can imagine something that doesn’t exist yet, or preserve something that is in danger of being lost.


An artist is anyone who has culturally relevant knowledge they can share with the community at large.


Barrio supports artists by offering training opportunities for teaching, engaging, and following up with community members. Our goal is to support artists with materials, and our organizing experience, so they can lead their own programs. 

 Barrio believes in the democratization of creative spaces where neighbors utilize their cultural knowledge and skills to co-create activities that share the knowledge with the community.


Barrio's plan to change narratives include the re-imagining of our community. The idea is simple: art can help reclaim spaces that are underutilized or abandoned.


Art projects help reconnect neighbors with their environment as they feel more connected to the spaces they use as makeshift art rooms.


Barrio has been very intentional about utilizing public spaces for our programs to help re-establish ownership of people's communities.


  My Mother's Refrigerator 

Everybody's art makes it to My Mother's Refrigerator!
If you love to do art, and want to show it, network, meet new people, and have your art purchased by someone from our community, then this is the show to be a part of!

Making your



Come ready to make and take art with you. At Barrio, we believe in creating together and owning what we create!


Photography and videography is encouraged.
Please use #barrioalegria

so we can find the pictures!


If you would like to lead a workshop, please send us a note and we will get back to you to schedule a workshop!


  OJOS: In the eye of the beholder  

The OJOS: Eye of the Beholder project is a multi-year initiative to engage youth in documenting the City of Reading through photography.

OJOS participants take a 2 hour photography workshop and then given a Digital Reflex Camera for a week for them to document their lives. The idea is to start changing mindsets, both among youth, but more importantly, among all of the neigh-sayers who think Reading youth are nothing but trouble-makers. 

Making your



Barrio doesn't do regular performances. We do things differently:


Photography and videography is encouraged.
Please use


After the performance, our cast will engage with the audience in a question and answer session


  Storytelling Through Dance  

Storytelling Through Dance (STTD) is a community engagement project that takes the shape of a community theater production. The project builds a space for community members to gain leadership skills, explore self limiting beliefs, occupy spaces they do not naturally see themselves in, and build a better  world.


Participants include inner city residents whom Barrio outreached to. Some of them self selected as dancers, some of them did not. The production debuts at the Reading Public Library and performed at local schools and universities. 

Do you only do
Latin Dances?

No. B.A.D. co coreographies have included Bhangra dances, traditional Chinese dance, and a Moroccan dance in addition to Latin dances

Will I have to purchase expensive stuff?

We believe that traditional dances have to be respectful of cultural traditions, however, we try to minimize expenses to dancers

Do you only perform in Reading?

Although performing in our city is top priority for us, we sometimes perform in other cities as well.


  Barrio Alegria Dance Company  

StoB.A.D. Co. is the dance company of Barrio Alegria. Through this program we open doors for dancers in our community regardless of experience.  It is the program that started it all. Barrio started as a dance company and used dance as its first form or engagement.

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