Friday, April 04, 2008

Spotlight: AHA's Beni Matías

Bienvenida "Beni" Matías, a boricua filmmaker who is the new executive director of the Association of Hispanic Arts (AHA) in NYC's East Harlem, says one of her priorities now is getting feedback from local artists.
"I love arts organizations connected to the Latino community," says Matías about why she took on this new professional challenge.
At a meet-and-greet activity Wednesday night at the Longwood Art Gallery in the Bronx, artists were busy chatting with Matías. And, she was all ears. After all, she says, "I need artists to come and tell me what's important to them." -- Clarisel Gonzalez

Here's the press release from AHA on Matías' appointment:

The Association of Hispanic Arts (AHA) announced (in March) their new Executive Director, Bienvenida (Beni) Matías. The AHA Board of Director’s Chairperson, Elba Cabrera said, "The Board is pleased that Beni will be leading the organization in the next stage of our development. She is a veteran arts administrator who has worked for many arts non-profits, similar to AHA."

Ms. Matías is an executive, educator and filmmaker. She is the former Executive Director of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) in New York City and Publisher of The Independent magazine. She is a founding Board Member and former NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) Coordinator. She was the Executive Director of the Center for Arts Criticism (CAC), a Minneapolis-based non-profit. Before coming to CAC, she was Director of Production at the Independent Television Service and Executive-in-Charge of Production at WNYC-TV. She is a former AIVF board member, and has served on the boards of Intermedia Arts Minnesota and Women Make Movies.

She is a pioneering Puerto Rican filmmaker having produced documentaries both for public television. Her 1979 film Heart of Loisaida is recognized by the Donnell Media Center at the New York Public Library as part of their major film preservation initiative, "Twentieth Century Mirrors: America Through the Eyes of Independent Filmmakers." She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Paul Robeson Fund, among others, for her documentary work. Ms. Matías was awarded a Leadership Initiative in Neighborhood grant, from the St. Paul Company in Minnesota, to explore connections between arts criticism, media, leadership, and community activism. She has mentored many documentary filmmakers and has taught video production at Hunter College.

Ms. Matías said, "I am excited to be part of the Association of Hispanic Arts and the work it will accomplish for Latino Arts in El Barrio and New York City. I grew up here, a few blocks away from the AHA office. It’s great to be home again."

The Association of Hispanic Arts, as a non-profit learning institute, is committed to serving Latino artists and arts administrators. Our mission is to promote career development, financial independence, and networking opportunities for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs.

For more information on AHA, go to

(Photo of Beni Matías by Edwin Pagan)

NOTE: See related story by Clarisel about Beni at
(page 9)
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