he idea for Sol & Soul came out of a rich conversation over a delicious meal at a Vietnamese restaurant in Arlington in April 1999. Hilary, Quique, and Yael had worked with each other on different projects over the past few years, on a diet of friendship and shared political and spiritual values. But it was at that dinner with good friend Elia Arce, a performance artist from Joshua Tree, California, that they posed the question: what might an artist-centered organization that nurtures creative work with a social conscience look like?

Sol & Soul came into formal existence later that fall, with a founding Board of artists and activists known in their respective circles and committed to our vision. In our first year, GALA Theatre – which has showcased outstanding Spanish language performing arts from the Americas and Europe for more than 25 years and helped cultivate a generation of community-based Latino theater artists – served as our original fiscal sponsor and provided invaluable support.

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Sol & Soul owes much to the spirit and practice of those who came before us — theater companies such as Teatro Nuestro, LatiNegro, and the Living Stage Theatre Company, as well as individual artist/activists such as Elia Arce, Quique Avilés, Ruben Martinez, and the late Rebecca Rice to name a few. We continue to be influenced by the hundreds of artists we’ve met who courageously use poetry, performance, graffiti art, murals, music, movement, and other mediums to bear witness to their own lives and the lives of those around them, and place these realities within a wider social context.