In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, The Hartford Chamber of Commerce is highlighting local Hispanic business owners and community drivers in a spotlight series.
Hartford-based playwright and performer Cin Martinez spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about how she’s leveraged her talent to create a Latino voice in Hartford.
NAN PRICE: Why Hartford?
CIN MARTINEZ: I love that question. With the work I do, many people have told me I should be in all these other places. I got the same feedback when I purchased my two-family house in Hartford. The answer is: I was raised to believe you have to be the change you want to see. You have to be the one to make whatever environment be the environment you want to be a part of. If you want to see more plays about the Latino experience, perhaps you should write one. That’s been a repeated pattern in my world.
So, I don’t feel a sense of urgency to bring my talent or energy to a different place outside of Hartford. What I want to do and what I have been doing, was and is getting done here. I don’t need to go anywhere else to feel validated or feel like I’ve arrived at whatever goal I’ve set. Those things can happen here. There are really talented people in Hartford. We shouldn’t keep sending the message that you have to go somewhere else.
NAN: That ties into the question about how we tell the story of Hartford.
CIN: It starts with just having pride—and continuing to find your tribe. And when you find your tribe, you become a part of something. There are pockets of residents with similar interests, and they gather, collaborate, and build together. Those kinds of connections have been on the rise. Hartford is living out loud.
So, one way we tell our story is by creating that type of visibility and creating a buzz. It’s happening with the young professionals, too. They’re not just going to work and going home. They’re going to events and promoting interesting things to do in the city. That creates vibrancy and it’s creating a magnet for people to say: Okay, I’m not just in Hartford to work and eat, there are cool things and people I’ve connected with and this is starting to feel like a place where I enjoy myself.
NAN: Let’s talk about your involvement in the Hartford community.
CIN: I’ve been a part of the performance arts community in Hartford for a long time and I’ve been a member of the HartBeat Ensemble for more than 15 years. I’ve spent years collaborating with different artists in all kinds of performing arts events and become part of the cohort of people who offer the residents of Hartford an entertainment outlet outside of their living rooms.
NAN: How have you been able to leverage your performing arts activities to provide a voice for the Hispanic community?
CIN: I wrote a play called Pegao, which is a story about a Puerto Rican family. We have a lot of Latinos in the Hartford community, so it was a special experience to see so many excited audience members feeling validated and proud as they were watching the story unfold on the stage. Many were first-time theatergoers.
Part of my goal is to continue telling our stories. It’s in line with one of the missions for the HartBeat Ensemble to create access for different demographics and theatergoers. That’s been my biggest involvement in the city. I’ve also always found ways to mentor young people.
NAN: Where do you see the future of Hartford?
CIN: I think the future of Hartford is already kind of happening. There’s a wave of younger people who want to do things, want to see positive change, and want to see good uses for funding. I don’t think people are laying down and being quiet about their wants and needs for where they live. There’s a wave of people who are doers and, because of that, the city continues to evolve.
I also think, whether you’re in the middle of a goal or just having achieved a particular goal, it’s important to dream and plan out loud, because you never know who you’re inspiring to do the same. Sometimes we’re shy about the journey and we’re all about the destination, but sometimes the journey is the thing that causes that positive ripple effect. Sharing about my journey is one of the things I’ve done throughout my life that has created a ripple effect of other people living more bravely.