Our Opinion Mariachi's sweet strains sing success

April 22, 2005


There's more to mariachi than meets the eye - or the ear.

As the 23rd annual Tucson International Mariachi Conference hits its climax tomorrow, we all would do well to recognize the broad benefits to our community of this traditional form of music:


  • Educational achievement soars when students have instruction in the arts, as the Tucson Unified School District has proven. Now TUSD and Sunnyside Unified School District support mariachi bands in local schools, boosting such achievement.


  • Mariachi keeps Mexican-Americans in touch with their cultural roots, and its joyous strains help enlighten others about this rich culture.


  • Students of mariachi who might not have gone to college may go now, thanks to accredited mariachi degree programs, starting this fall at Pima Community College's Desert Vista Campus and launched by Tucsonan Jeff Nevin at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif.


Once on campus, they can take other courses, and "that might be a hook to get them to go to college," Nevin notes.

Thus we're delighted to learn that the conference this year is reaping 25 percent to 35 percent more revenue than it did in the past two years, according to conference board President Frank Valenzuela.

Desperately needed sponsors emerged. That, coupled with projected attendance of 40,000 people for all the events, bodes well for the conference.

And success for the conference sustains La Frontera, the South Side center providing mental-health care and other rehabilitative services to the poor and homeless.

One business sponsorship of the Mariachi Conference brought about $100,000 to the center in 2000, but support of the conference waned in subsequent years.

Now one of Tucson's favorite fiestas is back on its feet, despite its unfortunate need this year to move the gala Food City Fiesta de Garibaldi Saturday night out of downtown and to Reid Park and charge a $5 fee for adult admission.

Here's hoping community support continues for this cultural and educational phenomenon in Tucson