Dear Mangos With Chili Community, Lovers, Supporters, Fans, Foes and Family:
After nine glorious and grueling years of touring, production, visioning the fantastic, and nurturing community, we are writing today to share some huge news. This June, Mangos With Chili will begin a wind down year, and stop operating in June 2016.
The near decade of work we have done together has transformed us and the world in ways we could never have anticipated. When we began, we were at a historical moment where performance art by and for queer and trans people of color felt like it was at a low point. Many of our foremothers- Sylvia Rivera, Gloria Anzaldúa, June Jordan, Barbara Cameron- had passed, as well as the institutions like Kitchen Table Women of Color Press they had created.
When we started, it was with the work and legacy of our foremothers in mind. We created and fought for spaces for QTPOC artists and worked to fill some of the gaps left by our foremothers. We dreamed of creating cultural institutions by and for QTPOC. We did and we didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t care (and we learned a lot as we went along). We knew that what mattered the most was the love we had for our queer and trans communities of color and our faith in the power of art as truth telling to heal and transform us.
Almost a decade later from our beginnings, we see all we that we have touched and changed. We see a wealth of art and cultural work by and for QTPOC. In the Bay Area alone, groups like Peacock Rebellion, Queer Rebels, Stories of Queer Diaspora, the Congregation of Liberation- flourishing. We have nurtured and presented the work of over 150 QTPOC artists. We have taken tours on the road all over North America. We have created performances that were sacred spaces of liberation and healing around themes of QTPOC love, desire, ancestry, rites of passage, and apocalypse. We were, and we are, legendary, and imperfect and beautiful.
We came to our decision to wind down for several important reasons. As the Bay Area has changed due to gentrification and displacement, our relationships to the Bay have changed. Neither of us are able to afford to live in Oakland anymore, having been displaced from housing due to evictions and landlord home sales hoping to profit from a whitening and upper middle class-ifying of the Bay. Many people who were very important to Mangos With Chili as artists, community members, volunteers and enthusiastic audience members also do not live in the Bay anymore, for similar reasons. We are making new homes in new places. We also have very real desires to work on new projects, and kick it on porches, and talk story with our families, and kiss our boos, and give ourselves time and space to dream new things into being.
As we prepare to wind down, we can’t thank you enough for the love, support, witnessing, critiques, resources, beds, meals, and stories you have shared with us on this incredible journey. We always said that all of this was for you, and that we couldn’t do it without you. All of this is absolutely true. It has been such a deep and loving joy, and such honor, to do this with and for you.
So what comes next???
Over the next year, we will have a series of wind down performances and events across North America. The first performance of our wind down series will be our final National Queer Arts Festival production this June, All That You Touch You Change, on June 25th at the African American Arts & Cultural Center in San Francisco. Please check our Facebook page for updates about the production in the coming weeks.
We will also be presenting at the Allied Media Conference on our history, impact, and the legacy we are leaving during the weekend of June 18-21.
We are excited to run a story bank in different cities that we visit, where you will be able to share and record your memories and stories of MWC. And for folks unable to travel to story bank, we will have a google voice number where you’ll be able to record stories and memories. These stories will become part of our archives.
Over the coming year we will also work towards ensuring our work is properly archived and make decisions around where our physical archives will reside.
Ending does not mean failure. Rather, what life has taught us is that ending and transition mean honor and witness and celebration. And today we celebrate all that we have created, experienced, and witnessed together, with you.
When we reflect on the story of MWC, it is the story of the impossible. Of making beauty from nothing. Of fucking up and learning and doing better and showing up. Of always believing. It’s a story of triumph. It’s our story. We did it. We made history. It is a history that you witnessed and participated in. It is our history. Thank you for being part of this story.
We will close with Octavia Butler’s words which so aptly sum up where we are today:
“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
We hope to see you in a city near you in the coming year!
Oh, and we always historically closed our notes with “in love, lipstick, and liberation” but because newness, and time, and growing, and silver hairs:
In legend, imperfection, and beauty,
Cherry and Leah