Now through Nov. 15, five small South Florida arts organizations are vying for the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award, offering a $20,000 prize. Below, author and playwright Teo Castellanos talks about why he should get your vote.
Q. Why should your group win the People’s Choice Award?
A. I am a Miami native. I grew up in Carol City, I am one of a handful of theater artists who was determined to create a career without leaving for New York or Los Angeles. I have represented this city by staying and creating work here. My love for this community showed in my award winning solo NE 2nd Avenue. The nine characters I portrayed were all Miami folks from different backgrounds ethnicities, races and cultures. I toured this show for 10 years, sharing Miami’s cultures and stories throughout the U.S. and abroad. I am now creating another Miami story. Through touring the solo show and subsequently producing the film, I hope to reach an even wider audience.
Q. What would you do with the $20,000 prize?
A. Creating a new work has many production costs. These costs include, administrative, costume/light/sound/set design, director, rehearsal time, artist fees, space rental, dramaturge, stage manager, and even documentation (video recording and post production). The money would go towards these production costs and to support two writing retreats that will allow me to finish the adaptation from the screenplay I have written, into a solo theater piece.
Q. What’s the best part of being an artist in South Florida?
A. The best part of being an artist in South Florida is the fact that we don’t have to leave our city in order to sustain ourselves and our families as artists. Being a native, I have witnessed the artistic growth spurt South Florida had over the last two decades. I have been able to provide for my family and put my daughter through college solely working as an independent artist. I hope to be an inspiration to young artists throughout South Florida, so that they may remain here and help continue to create a vibrant artistic community.