We are reaching out to ask for your help. Many of you know the incredible work of beloved and gifted choreographer, costume designer, BrasArte founder,cultural director and visionary, Conceicao Damasceno. However, few are aware that for the last 10 years she has been in a difficult battle against Lupus, an aggressive auto-immune disease. Few are aware because despite the severe and at times life-threatening affects of this disease (such as kidney failure/dialysis, multiple surgeries, chronic inflammation and severe pain), Conceicao has managed to ALWAYS show up for the arts community. She has worked incessantly to raise Brazilian culture to the thriving place where it is today in the Bay Area. She has done so without ever taking a salary from BrasArte.
Conceicao took a hard fall several weeks ago at the Brazilian Day Festival and fractured her hip and is currently in a lot of pain. Because her condition with Lupus is so delicate, surgery is out of the question and so she must stay off her feet for six weeks until the fracture heals. She will not be able to work. As you can imagine, it is a difficult time for the seemingly unstoppable Conceicao. She is in need of help both at the Casa de Cultura and with her health. With this campaign, we hope to raise at least $15,000 for nutritional therapy, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture treatments that have helped her in the past, but that she has not been able to afford for a long time. Any funds raised above our goal would support the many classes offered at the Casa de Cultura for children and adults taught by masters of Brazilian art and culture.
She has given so much and it is now time for us to dig deep and show our love and appreciation for Conceicao Damasceno and what she means to us. We urge you to do all you can to support the continued work and teachings of Conceicao Damasceno, BrasArte, and the Casa de Cultura, true Bay Area and national treasures.
With hope and gratitude,
John Santos & Aida Salazar
For those of you not familiar with Conceiçao's work:
Conceicao is among the premiere representatives, teachers and pioneers of Afro-Brazilian folklore and culture in the United States today. Her 501c3 non-profit organization, BrasArte, and Casa de Cultura on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley (which she runs in collaboration with Mestre Accordeon Bira Almeida and the World Capoeira Association), form a veritable and literal arts institution in a location known internationally for progressive, cutting edge arts. They have presented countless wonderful programs of all kinds representing the whole of Latin America with an emphasis on Brazilian arts over the past ten years in this location (and well over thirty years in the Bay Area). Through BrasArte, her org, the yearly Lavagem / Brazilian Day Festival, Yemanjá Festival, Carnaval, and Camp Eré for children are just a few of the magnificent jewels she has consistently given. The day of her fall, the City of Berkeley recognized her at Brazilian Day Festival with a plaque and proclamation.