The Latino Cultural Center gained momentum as the Ad Hoc Committee received a final hearing from the Phoenix City Council for future development.
The Ad Hoc Committee, created by District 1 Councilwoman, Thelda Williams, was designed to make recommendations to the City Council for future site developments for a Latino center by including operating, programming, and fundraising strategies. This comes after a widespread demand for more Latino representation from the public, according to a 2017 Capital Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study. It was also made possible by the City Bond program made for a Latino representation project.
In 2001, the Bond Program was made to expand and renovate Museo Chicano, a museum that promoted Latino culture in Downtown Phoenix. However, the museum closed in 2008 and the bond fund was held in reserve for future Latino projects.
With a little under half of Phoenix’s population being Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a cultural center in Phoenix represents a good chunk of the region’s population.
“I want to thank everybody on the Ad Hoc Committee and the leadership, it’s very impressive. For years they used to wallow this around, one decision, and then they’d change it to the next after a few months. I’m glad to see that we have leaders that have stepped forth, that are totally involved and now we have an excellent, great plan. Something the City of Phoenix can be proud of, something generations can enjoy,” Williams said in the latest policy session.
To achieve this goal the Ad Hoc Committee presented a final report to the City Council for approval on Sept. 22, to go ahead with future plans. The plans included research from pre-existing centers across the nation for proper insight and scope, with some standouts including Latino Cultural Centers in New Mexico and Texas.
As far as future plans are concerned, the building on the northwest corner of 3rd Street and Moreland, adjacent and connected to the Phoenix Center for the Arts, was recommended because of an easy freeway and light rail access, outdoor space, and being near other cultural institutions.
The committee also established that the center would be home for artists and organizations that already portray Latino culture, not to duplicate pre-existing organizations and partner up for collaborative events.
Some of the suggestions in the 2017 Feasibility Study included making festivals, workshops, classes, storytelling, performances, and much more, which was also a focal point for a recommendation. Since the report was put up by the Phoenix of Arts and Culture organization, promotion from the organization would also be vital to help start up the new and upcoming cultural center.
In regards to the fundraising aspect, the organization recommended opening up a collaborative fund at the Arizona Community Foundation to accept tax-deductible donations for a fundraising goal. Alongside this, they also plan to contract a capital manager to help strew fundraising goals and appeal to the Parks and Recreation Board to meet the fundraising goals given the COVID-19 situation.
“It’s just wonderful to see all of the different artists come together with a dream and now this dream is coming to a reality,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski.