Tucson, Ariz., (December 12, 2018) — Buffalo Exchange, a privately owned, family-operated fashion resale retailer based in Tucson, will honor Dante Celeiro, recognized for his work in creating spaces for the LGBTQ+ artistic community, as the recipient of the 2018 Buffalo Exchange Contributor to the Arts Award. As this year’s winner, Dante will receive a $10,000 cash award during a ceremony on January 29, 2019, at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
The Buffalo Exchange Arts Award was established by Buffalo Exchange owners Kerstin Block and her late husband, Spencer Block, to encourage creativity, innovation, and excellence in the arts. Held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, this Fund for the Arts has awarded more than $200,000 to individuals in the Southern Arizona art community since 1994.
“We’ve always believed that art is essential to the well-being of the community,” says Buffalo Exchange Founder Kerstin Block, “and Dante really exemplifies that. He has dedicated himself to mentoring young people in the arts and providing them with safe spaces where they can be themselves. We’re proud to support someone who has done so much for LGBTQ youth.”
Originally from NYC, Dante has been involved in social activism & the arts community for more than 25 years. After 12 years of working with the Gays Men’s Health Crises, Callen-Lorde Health Center, CDC and being heavily involved in the underground Ball Scene, Dante headed to the Southwest. While starting the Tucson AIDS memorial quilt panels at SAAF, he began managing Boys R Us, Arizona’s First Gender Performance Troupe. Some of his accomplishments include winner of the 2009 Pima Arts Council Festival Grant, 2012 The Rainbow Keshet Award for Civil Rights Activist from the Tucson Jewish Federation, and the 2012 Lumie for Emerging Arts Organization from the Tucson Pima Arts Council.
While performing in local bars & traveling the country, a need for creating safe spaces was clear, and Fluxx was born. The first and only Cultural Community Arts Organization in the Southwest. Fluxx encourages open dialogue and communication about queer culture to bridge gaps in understanding, acceptance and change. Their goal is to increase visibility and promote the creation of queer arts and culture, by providing a platform for expression and exchange.
Eli Burke, who nominated Dante for the award, cited that Dante’s goal is always community. Creating access and opportunities for growth and visibility is what he has committed his life to. He genuinely cares about the LGBTQIA+ community and it shows through the community work he does and the art he creates through performance. “Dante has worked his entire adult life serving the community,” says Burke, “and if anyone deserves this award, it is him.”
Each year, candidates for Buffalo Exchange’s Arts Award are nominated and selected by two separate panels of experts who are familiar with the Southern Arizona Arts scene. The focus of the award changes from one year to the next, highlighting emerging artists in the performing arts and visual arts, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts through education, organization, and advocacy.
To learn more about the Buffalo Exchange Fund for the Arts and see a complete list of past recipients, please visit the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona at cfsaz.org.