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Connecticut’s Hispanic performing artists adapt to inflation with hope for future generations

The Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble performs during Flamenco Passion 2019 in New Haven, Ct.
Provided photograph
Antonio Arreguin
The Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble performs during Flamenco Passion 2019 in New Haven, Conn.

Valeriano Ramos is a professional flamenco guitarist. He has been performing since 1985. Valeriano learned flamenco when he attended a music program at a Bronx school. Unlike most Puerto Ricans who perform salsa, bachata, bomba y plena, or boleros, he dedicates his time to the flamenco rhythm.

Ramos said that inflation has taken a toll on many Hispanic artists in Connecticut, despite the the U.S. Consumer Price Index indicating lower levels of inflation in March. He said to address inflation, some musicians are recording studio tracks for other artists, performing as part of church choirs and even increasing their own performing fees.

“What most artists are doing, myself included, is teaching, not just performing privately or in music schools or communities,” Ramos said. “So teaching has become a supplemental source of income.”

The hike in prices due to inflation is a situation everyone is experiencing, said Maria Cruz-Saco, a professor of economics at Connecticut College who also chairs the La Latina Network, a program within the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut.

“Artists, particularly Hispanic artists, if you want to make a living out of your art, you’ll have to be very adventurous, and you’ll have to be an entrepreneur to sell your work,” Cruz said. “They have to take on another occupation to pay their bills.”

Although times are hard, Ramos said the future of Hispanic artists in Connecticut is promising because there’s more funding for community organizations.

“You see these programs doing great work with young people, exposing them to different forms of music and arts,” he added.

And Cruz agreed. She said the Hispanic Alliance hosted workshops for Latin American artists and organized exhibitions.

Ramos is enthusiastic about the future of Hispanic artists. He said the older generation of artists now teaches the diversifying population of Latin Americans in Connecticut different rhythms and musical styles.

“It’s a more diverse Latino community than it used to be,” Ramos said. “It was predominantly Puerto Rican for many decades. Still, now you see more people and artists from Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. Some groups are performing Andean music from Peru, especially young women.”

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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