La Peña Cultural Center
- J. Ryan Bodiford
A community organization and performance venue located in Berkeley, California, and dedicated to the promotion of cross-cultural understanding through the presentation of predominantly Latino-oriented cultural and educational events. A nonprofit organization, it was established in 1975 by Chilean exiles seeking asylum from the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. La Peña is modeled on the peña tradition, popularized throughout Latin America in the early 1960s, wherein small community gathering places were established to provide an alternative public platform for a diverse array of musicians, poets, artists, and political activists. Further paralleling the peña tradition, as well as the politically committed, Pan-Latin American Nueva canción (New Song) movement that emerged with it, La Peña has also been a bastion for progressive political organization and expression. Over the years its cultural and educational programming has highlighted a series of political struggles and human rights concerns, with the most attention being given to issues particularly relevant to the local and international Latino community....