Back in March of 2017, Los Angeles-based music manager Doris Muñoz launched Solidarity for Sanctuary, a small benefit concert headlined by Cuco that she planned in order to raise money for her undocumented parents’ legal fees. Months later, she followed up the event with Selena For Sanctuary, a fundraiser inspired by the Queen of Tejano, where people could dance and support immigrant families in need. It was instantly a hit, and now, it’s coming to New York City’s Lincoln Center — and it’s bigger than ever.
The New York iteration of Selena For Sanctuary will be held on July 26 as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors series, and the lineup includes Mon Laferte, August Eve, Cuco, Omar Apollo, Nina Diaz, and Riobamba; each artist will perform Selena covers in Damrosch Park. Several non-profit organizations are partnering with organizers to show support for immigrant rights and undocumented communities, including Voto Latino and Make the Road New York. Although the evening won’t be a fundraiser like its predecessors, it’ll be completely free, in a space set up with 2,600 chairs.
Lincoln Center became interested in Selena For Sanctuary after Jill Sternheimer, the Center’s director of public programming, heard about the events Muñoz had been putting together in L.A. She had been interested in adding some kind of Selena-themed program to this season’s offerings, and it struck her that Muñoz and her electric dance parties would be the perfect fit.
“This is a woman with a mission, who has such a passion for the music work and management she does, while also carrying out social justice and making her world a better place. She was really exciting — and these are the kind of people we want to make sure have a space at Lincoln Center,” Sternheimer said.
Muñoz knew that with the help of one of the country’s best-known cultural centers, she could scale the energy of her events on a massive level. She quickly mobilized a string of performers who could headline (Cuco, who she manages, will be on deck again) and she reached out to organizations in New York that could rally locals.
“We can’t raise funds for this one, but what we can do is use the night as a platform to amplify the messages of the non-profits who are in the trenches in New York, doing the real work that is required for these crises. The whole point is to get people excited and motivated to act themselves,” Muñoz said.
What’s always been unique about Muñoz’s event is how she combines music and community — two things Sternheimer said she wanted to balance in Lincoln Center’s programming. Attendees can celebrate Selena’s legacy and have fun, but if they choose to, they can also quickly find ways to lend a hand to people in need.
“There’s one piece of this that feels like connection and self-care, but the fact that Doris was able to open this up for not-for-profit organizations deepens the community aspect of this night. It’s important for people to come together in joy and to be able to relax, but they can also go to the back of the park and sign up do something, if they want to,” Sternheimer said.
Muñoz notes that the event is coming at a particularly fragile time, as the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy has ramped up the number of immigrants criminally processed at the border and separated thousands of children from their families. Muñoz recognizes that this has caused a marked heaviness in the community, and hopes that people find comfort in getting involved during Selena For Sanctuary.
“It’s really dark right now, especially when you’re seeing these kids who look like your little nieces and nephews crying for their parents. But this is a moment to link arms and fight the good fight. We can do this while enjoying a beautiful night of music for our immigrant communities, at a prestigious platform like Lincoln Center, where our community deserves a seat at this table,” she said. “This couldn’t come at a better time.”
Selena for Sanctuary takes place at New York City’s Lincoln Center on July 26 at 7:30 p.m. For more info, check the flyer below.