February 23, 2004 - Dallas Daily News: RPCV Yolanda Alameda sees a Hispanic Arts Center in the Ice House

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: February 2004 Peace Corps Headlines: February 23, 2004 - Dallas Daily News: RPCV Yolanda Alameda sees a Hispanic Arts Center in the Ice House

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RPCV Yolanda Alameda sees a Hispanic Arts Center in the Ice House

RPCV Yolanda Alameda sees a Hispanic Arts Center in the Ice House

Alameda sees an arts house in Ice House

City staffer dreams of buying, renovating the Oak Cliff facility

09:40 PM CST on Monday, February 23, 2004

By REGINA L. BURNS / The Dallas Morning News

Yolanda Alameda has a dream: to make Oak Cliff's Ice House Cultural Center a first-class arts facility.

"If I won the lottery, I'd give half to my husband and I'd buy the Ice House," said Mrs. Alameda, assistant director of the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs.

"I'd buy that facility and renovate it and make it truly a state-of-the-art community arts facility," she said.

Mrs. Alameda's dream comes as no surprise to those close to her. Both her husband, Orlando Alameda, and her boss, Betty Switzer, say the 39-year-old's Ice House aspiration is indicative of her commitment and sense of community.

The Ice House, at 1004 W. Page St., has a 300-seat theater and a gallery. Originally an ice house owned by Southland Corp., part of the structure was renovated and opened in 1997.

"We use about 7,000 square feet, and it's at least 15,000 square feet of space. There's a back space that could be rehearsal space," Mrs. Alameda said.

Oak Cliff is getting a new cultural center, approved by voters in a 2003 bond election. It will be in a different location.

"The Ice House's future is unclear," she said.

Mr. Alameda said the couple, who have two young children, have discussed her Ice House dream.

"The idea of buying the Ice House has always been in her head, so if we had the means to do it, we would," Mr. Alameda said.

He readily acknowledges that his wife is the "doer in the family" and said: "it's my job to try to keep up with her."

Mr. Alameda, 35, also works for the city, as a chief real estate specialist. He said he doesn't consider it a bad thing that they are both city employees.

"It leads to interesting conversations around the dinner table. We all enjoy what we do," he said.

Mrs. Alameda's brother, Albert Rojas, works for Reunion Arena, and their mother, Oralia Rojas, worked in the Park and Recreation Department before retiring.

Mrs. Alameda said she promised herself while growing up that she would never work for the city. She left Dallas for school and other opportunities but returned in 1996 and accepted a temporary position in the Office of Cultural Affairs.

"I find it ironic that I'm in the place where I started, and that's where I'm really supposed to be," Mrs. Alameda said.

Helping people maximize their potential gives Mrs. Alameda great joy, so it's no surprise that she has always worked with people.

"She can assess the community's needs and then really work hard to find a way to meet those needs," said Ms. Switzer, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs since 2001.

She describes Mrs. Alameda as a great colleague and wonderful sounding board.

"Much of it is rooted in her upbringing. She was in the Peace Corps I don't think you just grow that," Ms. Switzer said.

Raising the value of the arts in the Latino community is an important emphasis for Mrs. Alameda. She has encouraged and promoted artists such as Marco Rodriguez, co-artistic director of Martice Enterprises.

They met five years ago when he was performing in a play. When he decided to produce a comedy about the Latino experience called Latinologues, she sprang into action.

"She gave me the names of nonprofits and told me how to work with the Office of Cultural Affairs," said Mr. Rodriguez, who is also a co-producer.

The show was a big hit and won awards.

Mr. Rodriguez said, "She is a woman that believes in the good of art and the good that it does in general."

E-mail rburns@dallasnews.com

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Story Source: Dallas Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Arts; Hispanic Issues



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