Pintig which means pulse in Pilipino, was founded in April 1991, with a mission to serve as a voice of the Filipino American community by engaging in active cultural work – using art as a means to celebrate the community’s rich history and culture. CIRCA was a non-profit arts organization that was founded in December 2001 by members of the PINTIG Cultural Group. CIRCA and Pintig merged in 2006 to form CIRCA Pintig, a community theater company and community education and outreach organization.
Spring of 1991, a group of Filipino activists, artists, working professionals and community organizers gathered in a small restaurant in the north side of Chicago, for a night of poetry and music echoing strains of old experiences and new-found dreams. In the months ahead came an arts for peace festival and a fundraising event for the victims of a volcanic tragedy. The same people came together all driven by one motivation –– to celebrate culture and history as a means to create a critical voice for the community. Friendships were forged, talents were unearthed and many stories were shared. And pretty soon a growing social consciousness started to pulsate finding its political and artistic expression in what became to be known as Pintig Cultural Group. In the Fall of 1992, Pintig, a Tagalog word for pulse, produced its first theatrical play, “America is in the Heart”, based on the autobiographical novel of Carlos Bulosan, an immigrant who rose from the muddy fields of the Philippines, to the streets of farm workers strike in California, to the glowing accolades of the American literati in the 1930s. Phenomenal as his experience was, the play became pivotal in inspiring a group wanting to make a difference in a place that celebrates diversity and the collective strength of communities borne from a rich history of migration. In need of a safe space where youth and children can explore their creativity and cultural heritage, the Center for Immigrant Resources & Community Arts or CIRCA was born in 2001. Through theater workshops and performances, CIRCA together with Pintig artists provided opportunities of self-expression and art skills building for youth and children giving them a space to connect with their heritage and know its critical position within the diverse cultural landscape of the communities they come from. Also created as a honing ground for artist-teachers, CIRCA seized the opportunity to partner with After School Matters to cement its niche as a teaching organization. Realizing the strength of consolidating its creative energy, CIRCA and PINTIG became one entity in the Spring of 2006. And 18 years and 28 productions
after, it still throbs dramatically, not without challenges, but with a new found passion for building vibrant communities through the arts.