LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — A Manhattan educator is giving back to his neighborhood with free classes, offering access to the arts and making strides toward education equality.
Randy Luna grew up on the Lower East Side. He said empowering young people, especially in the Hispanic community, is his passion and purpose.
For Luna, it all started with a field trip to the Abrons Arts Center in grade school when he was 10 years old. That’s when his love of the arts was born.
Now, he sometimes can’t believe that same little boy is the director of education at Abrons. His mission: to make sure that the doors to the arts center are open to everyone.
Luna came from humble beginnings. His family is from the Dominican Republic. He was raised by a single mother who came to the United States at the age of 12. She taught him to be proud of his Hispanic heritage and to follow his dream of being an artist — not an easy path.
But his boss said he knew Luna was special.
“I knew Randy when he was a kid. He was a scarecrow in the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ From scarecrow to a superstar, and we are so proud of him,” said David Garza, the president and CEO of Henry Street Settlement.
Luna makes sure the faculty is diverse when putting together the curriculum. He personally oversees dozens of classes a week, including the NYCHA Arts Initiative, which offers free classes in dance, music, visual arts and theater for families living in NYCHA housing.
Luna said he realizes he can never repay what he was so freely given at Abrons so many years ago. Every day, with every student he teaches, he hopes to open up a whole new world of opportunity for the next generation to connect to their culture and their community.
For more information on programs and free classes, visit https://www.abronsartscenter.org/group-classes/