Albert Soto

We mourn the untimely death of Albert Soto, who dedicated his life to helping young minority artists improve their chances of success in their endeavors and to promoting justice for those who suffer discrimination in our society.

Soto, 51, was an arts administrator for Tucson-Pima Arts Council, and used that position to promote the efforts of struggling young artists by finding them grant money, by developing opportunities for them to display their works to the public, and by giving them much-needed encouragement and advice. He was director of the ARTWORKS! Academy, a component of an alternative education program the council operates in conjunction with Tucson Unified School District.

"He wanted very much to have young artists flourish, particularly artists who were often on the margins," said longtime friend and associate Barclay Goldsmith, founder of Borderlands Theater. "He wanted to help them find their voices and their passions. He was very concerned that grants be distributed to as many young and new voices as possible. He was a dreamer. He was doing stuff nobody else was doing."

Soto was a performing artist in his own right. He appeared in Tucson stage productions of Deporting the Divas, Midsummer Night's Dream, The House of Spirits and Electricidad. He was famous locally for his role as Lucifer in the last seven annual Borderlands productions of A Tucson Pastorela. "I've written over two dozen pastorelas," said playwright Max Branscomb. "And Albert was the only Lucifer the audiences actually cheered when he walked on stage."

But Soto was more than an artist and arts promoter. He also was a community activist. At the time of his death, he was president of the Southern Arizona Council 1057 of the League of United Latin American Citizens and the state organization's Deputy Director for Young Adults. He was chair of the Tucson Unified School District's Independent Citizens Committee, the role of which is to monitor the district's desegregation program. He was on the boards of directors of Access Tucson (local public television station) and Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona. He served on the Consejo Natcional para las Comunidades Mexicanes en el Exterior for the Mexican Consulate of Tucson. Soto was facilitator for the YWCA's "It's Time to Talk" program and he participated in numerous local, national and international conferences, panels and workshops on the arts and on human-rights issues.

"He wanted justice in this world," said longtime friend Annabelle Nuñez. "This community is going to feel a great loss."

A Tucson native, Soto graduated from Tucson High School and the University of Arizona. After college he pursued a career in the fashion industry in several U.S. cities. He returned to Tucson in 1987 to shift his career to its arts orientation. He joined the Tucson-Pima Arts Council in 1991.

Soto is survived by his parents, Frank and Irene Soto; sister Yolanda Bernal; brother Joe Soto; and five nephews and nieces.

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Supervisor Adelita Grijalva, Vice Chair

Pima County, Arizona
District 5

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Tucson, AZ 85701

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