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Andrew Padilla
Filmmaker, Photographer 

ABOUT: "You can follow your dreams, but you don’t have to forget about the place that you grew up in,” says filmmaker and photographer Andrew Padilla. Padilla’s upcoming documentary “El Barrio Tours” and his photo blog of the same name portray the gentrification that is slowly encroaching upon East Harlem. “My whole life I’ve been studying for this,” says the El Barrio native, whose upbringing in the community led him to develop a passion for “defending the working class.” After conducting dozens of interviews with community members, Padilla will include a wide variety of individual perspectives in his piece; “I wanted to see why this is happening, not just that it’s happening.” Padilla hopes that his work will empower the people of the community to recognize that they can be agents of change in the neighborhood. “The biggest problem [with gentrification] is the belief that you can’t do anything about it... I want to educate people about where we came from and where we need to go.”

COMMUNITY VISIONS: Padilla hopes that the community will provide more arts education for the youth of the neighborhood. The youth “need more opportunities to feel valued,” he says. He also comments that the community needs more grants for its artists, as well as more arts organizations that are based in the neighborhood. However, Padilla feels that the community should be cautious about the way in which it expands its artistic scene; “you want a stage for your artists, but at the same time, that becomes an asset for outside development.”


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