Longtime physician dedicates herself to connecting Latino communities in Philly through the arts

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel got involved at Taller Puertorriqueño soon after she moved to the U.S. in 1974 to study family medicine.

"I grew up in Puerto Rico," she said. "When I came to Philadelphia, I felt kind of disconnected from my culture."

Her career path led her to medicine as a doctor but, personally, Taller helped her reconnect with her heritage.

Dr. Febo San Miguel says she became "hooked" after attending an event Taller was producing shortly after she moved to the city that included a musician from Puerto Rico. She has been involved with the organization ever since, starting as a volunteer and currently serving as executive director.

The nonprofit whose name translates to 'Puerto Rican workshop' came from humble beginnings.

"Taller was founded by a group of Puerto Rican activists and artists," said Dr. Febo San Miguel. She says it started as a training program with the goal of "connecting youth to their cultural heritage through the arts."

Under her leadership, Taller opened El Corazón Cultural Center in 2016 and is headquartered there.

"People connected to it," said Dr. Febo San Miguel.
The cultural center was fittingly named El Corazón, meaning heart, since Taller is often referred to as "the cultural heart of the community" in West Kensington. And it's become Pennsylvania's largest Latino arts organization.

The cultural center boasts a large youth artist program, offering classes in photography, comic book design and printmaking, just to name a few.

Dr. Febo San Miguel says Taller offers these classes in a comprehensive after-school arts education program for children and youth, but teachers are also sent out to provide classes inside community schools during school time. Dance and music classes are also included in this program, which is called Visítenos, or Visit Us.

"We serve close to 2,000 kids in the schools," said Dr. Febo San Miguel.

The cultural center has much to offer adults and seniors too.

Besides classes in the arts, there is a gallery that is open to the public that features Puerto Rican and Latino artists. There is also a gift shop that offers various items from local artists, as well as books from Latino writers.

Dr. Febo San Miguel will retire as executive director on November 1, 2021 after spending two decades in the role.

"Taller should feel proud of the quality of the programs that it's been able to develop," she said.

Dr. Febo says for her, it's become a space to connect to "who we are, where we come from," and her hope is that it helps others in the community continue to connect to their culture for many years to come. "We have something very positive happening," she said.

Taller Puertorriqueño is hosting the 37th annual Feria del Barrio on Sunday, September 19, 2021 from 12pm - 3pm.

For more information, visit:
Taller Puertorriqueño
El Corazón Cultural Center
Feria del Barrio
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