Having just celebrated its 50th year, the Puerto Rican Festival Inc. is drafting a strategic plan to shape at least its next three to five years.
As part of the process, the organization has posted a survey asking for impressions, thoughts and opinions on how Latino culture is celebrated in general and how the Puerto Rican Festival Inc. in particular provides value to the community.
“Without the community, this organization isn’t what it is today,” said president Orlando Ortiz. “We have a few different stakeholders that are part of our steering committee that helped us put together the survey with the expectation that we can get that feedback across many different areas.”
The survey is available in English and Spanish. The 11 questions include requests for age, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. But key questions ask whether respondents know about the Puerto Rican Festival Inc., and its role promoting Latino culture.
The organization’s signature event is the annual Puerto Rican Festival in August, which leads to the question of how the larger Latino culture is honored.
“We understand that the name itself is very directed to one specific culture,” Ortiz said.
Over the recent years we’ve tried to be more inclusive of other cultures within the Puerto Rican Festival itself, be it music, food or some activities. Without changing the name, we’re trying to figure out do you feel that if you’re not Puerto Rican, is the Latino culture celebrated enough in the festival or in general in the community? If not, what other ways do you feel we can do that.”
Ortiz said that over the past 10 years, the organization has been doing more than the festival. It holds a pageant, comedy show, dominoes tournament and the Latino Film Festival.
The fact that the Puerto Rican Festival bears the name of the organization could give the impression of a narrow focus. Ortiz said there are no plans to change the name of the organization.
“We’ve always listened to the community and who knows, maybe as a result of the survey, that comes out of it,” he said. “At this point, it hasn’t been discussed internally. I think the fact that 50 years of brand recognition is tough to change and start from scratch with a new name.”
The organization has done strategic planning, but this time it’s working with an outside agency — Causewave Community Partners — to guide the process. About 350 people responded to the survey in the first week of January, and the survey runs through the end of the month. Ortiz said he hoped the strategic planning could be finished by April, which is when work for the festival goes into high gear.
To take the survey, to go www.surveymonkey.com/r/PRFestivalEnglish