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Barrio = Neighborhood; Alegria = Happiness

After several years as an informal dance collective, Barrio Alegria officially incorporated in 2015 to fulfill a broader community mission utilizing arts as a vehicle for change.

Three factors contributed to the creation of Barrio:

   1.The subscription to values found in our community such as:

  • We share what we have.

  • What happens to one of us, happens to all of us.

  • We hold ourselves and institutions of power accountable to promises.

   2.The community engagement model developed through B.A.D. co

  • With an emphasis on community building.

  • With an emphasis on leadership development.

  • Storytelling with a purpose.

  3.The challenge presented by Reading being named the poorest city in America in 2011.

  • In 2015, Reading became the first municipality in the state of Pennsylvania to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System, The process revealed some serious gaps in the community with regards to ensuring a positive quality of life for its residents. Of the 7 major goal categories, Reading scored lowest in Equity and Empowerment (15.9%).  The most notable finding was the lack of Civic Engagement, which measures citizen sense of self empowerment and participation in the public life.

With an initial focus on dance, programming has since expanded to include explorations in various art forms. In 2016, Barrio launched its community theater program, engaging local young persons in the development, choreography, and production of locally written pieces using diverse dance forms. 

In addition, Barrio artists engage residents in a number of other artistic media including: Ojos Photography Project, Plein Air Painting Days, Cancer Warrior Project, “Explorations in the Artform” series that help community members get involved in art creation rather than the art product.

In 2018, Barrio launched its Circo del Barrio, BANCo, and Leadership cohort programs.

In the past, Barrio has run programs such as: Tropical Nights, Salsa Beach Trips, Community Dance Presentations, Salsa on the Streets Videos, Dance presentations at Nolde Forest State Park, some of which still make it on our programming every now and then.

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