Friday, May 17, 2019
  Alumni, Announcements

By Letty Fernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV FESTIBA 2020 Mariachi Festival has been awarded a grant from Art Works, the National Endowment for the Arts’ principal grant-making program.

The Mariachi Festival was selected from among 1,592 Art Works applications for this round of grant-making; Art Works eventually will award 977 grants in this category.

Principal investigator on the grant is Dr. Dahlia Guerra, UTRGV assistant vice president of Public Art, who will administer the grant and oversee the mariachi festival. She said the grant will help fund the mariachi workshop and competition.

The UTRGV award is part of $80 million in grants approved by NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter in the endowment’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. 

“These awards, which reach every corner of the United States, are a testament to the artistic richness and diversity in our country,” Carter said. “Organizations like the UTRGV FESTIBA Mariachi Festival are giving people in their community the opportunity to learn, create, and be inspired.”

Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV vice president for the Division of Governmental & Community Relations, congratulated Guerra on the NEA award.

“The Mariachi Festival will provide individuals of all ages and backgrounds in South Texas with the opportunity to understand and celebrate the culture and heritage of our diverse and multicultural community,” Gonzales said.

“FESTIBA is a collaboration between The Office of Public Art and a variety of community entities, and its mission is to transform lives through engaged partnerships that expand, strengthen and promote UTRGV’s core priority of community engagement,” she said.


The FESTIBA Mariachi Festival has a successful 14-year history of presenting workshops at UTRGV and legacy UTPA.

The event draws mariachi directors from across Texas and other states in the southwest, based on the reputation of the UTRGV Mariachi Program and the nationally award-winning UTRGV Mariachi Aztlán.

The festival this year again brings renowned mariachi musicians to teach workshops on mariachi repertoire and history, performance practices and stage presence. More than 700 public school mariachi music students from across Texas are expected to attend.

In addition, a competition to be held after the workshop will showcase the most outstanding mariachi programs from across Texas. This is the fifteenth year UTRGV, and the legacy UTPA, has offered this statewide competition, which features the best high school and college mariachi groups in Texas.

Gonzales said the success of the FESTIBA Mariachi Festival is based on the acclaim and accomplishments of the Mariachi Program at UTRGV. Guerra, founder and director of both FESTIBA and the Mariachi Program, is a classical pianist whose research and doctoral dissertation focus on the history of Mexican folk music and the works of Mexican pianist/composer Manuel M. Ponce.

Guerra said her goal in establishing the mariachi program was to promote the beauty of Mexican folk music and the cultural traditions of the Hispanic people through the mariachi genre, and to promote higher education.

The Mariachi Program is co-directed by Francisco Loera, who is on the faculty of the UTRGV School of Music. Through his efforts, Mariachi Aztlán is having a significant impact on children and young adults across the United States by presenting workshops.

For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit



The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.