About Neruda Arts

About Neruda Arts

Neruda Arts is a nonprofit world music presenter dedicated to building bridges in the community through music, dance, drama, and literary and visual arts. During the past 15 years Neruda Arts has presented numerous Café Cabarets, Show the World concerts, festivals attracting thousands of residents and visitors, and workshops for emerging artists, youth, and various community groups. This programming has allowed Neruda Arts to develop a strong presence in the arts, culture and community service sectors of the Waterloo Region.

Founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Isabel Cisterna, the organization’s mandate is to support emerging and new Canadian professional artists, and artists from visible minorities, whose work is underrepresented in local cultural institutions. Neurda Arts is dedicated to both the professional development of emerging artists and the artistic development of professional artists, while at the same time working to raise awareness and appreciation for diverse forms of cultural expression in the community. Neruda Arts' programming brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to celebrate diversity and its positive values.

Neruda Arts in the Community

Neruda Arts works to develop a community that dignifies, supports, and interacts with new and established artists from a wide range of artistic disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Neruda Arts introduces audiences to exceptional world music artists from across Canada and from around the world.

Neruda Arts also reaches out to the community by collaborating with other arts, culture and social service organizations to offer interactive activities, programs for youth, professional development workshops for artists, expressive art therapy workshops, and to bring on board many enthusiastic English as a second language volunteers.

About Isabel Cisterna, Neruda Arts’ Founding Artistic Director

photo by Pablo Luquez

Isabel Cisterna is an artistic director, actor, playwright and one of the Waterloo Region’s most renowned community builders. Isabel studied theatre at the Catholic University in Chile where she cut her teeth as a street performer before immigrating to Canada in 1991.

Isabel founded Neruda Arts in 2001 and has served as it Artistic Director since that time. Under her leadership, Neruda Arts has grown as an organization to produce a range of programming that includes high calibre world music artists such as Alex Cuba, Amanda Martinez, Anita Tijoux, Quique Escamilla, Son Ache, and Anti Illiamani Historico among others. This programming enables Neruda Arts to succeed in its mandate to support new Canadian, emerging and visible minority artists by offering them opportunities to perform alongside their more established peers.

Neruda Arts has also expanded its repertoire to include visual art exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, and documentary film making. The organization has come along way since the intimate Café Cabarets of its early years, and now produces a large-scale, outdoor, free Kultrún World Music Festival attracting thousands of residents and visitors each year.

In addition to producing arts events, Isabel also developes Neruda Arts’ personal and creative expression workshops for youth, and professional development workshops for new Canadian and emerging artists. Isabel has led expressive art therapy programs for Extend-a-Family Waterloo, the Multicultural Centre and the KW Sexual Assault Centre, and for Wilfrid Laurier University. Isabel draws on her experience as an immigrant to mentor new Canadian artists and to lead workshops for marginalized groups. This experience is brought to life in her one-woman play, I Call Myself Isabel, which won a First Place Award in the 2001, New Works Festival.

Isabel has served as a member of the Waterloo Region Arts Fund Board, a Grant Committee member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, and as a Grant Committee member with the Ontario Arts Council. She has received numerous awards for her service to the community including Leading Women Building Communities (2014),WOW Award for Creative Arts (2013), Top 25 Canadian Immigrant (2012), Government of Chile award for achievement as a Chilean living abroad (2011), Oktoberfest Woman of the Year for Arts & Culture (2010), Waterloo Region Record 40 Under 40 (2009), and K-W Arts Awards for both the Arpillera: Tapestry of life Project (2008) and for Mentor of the Year (2007).

Isabel Cisterna
Artistic Director, Neruda Arts
519 502 9677