cul-cntr-upd415You might notice that the title of my blog post today does not include “Hispanic,” “Mexican-American” or other designation because the naming of the proposed cultural center is still up in the air. City council, received the first report from the Cultural Center Subcommittee this morning. The presentation was delivered by the chair of the subcommittee, Jaime Esparza. Three other members of the subcommittee were also present: Hector Gutierrez, Silvestre Reyes and Nestor Valencia were also present for the presentation.

There are eighteen members in the subcommittee that were appointed by city council. Gustavo Reveles is the BOAC liaison bringing the total membership to nineteen. Jaime Esparza was elected the chairman of the subcommittee. Nestor Valencia was elected vice-chair. The other members are: Rafael Adame, Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado, Ruben Chavez, Yolanda Clay, Luis Cortinas, Fermin Dorado, Rosa Guerrero, Hector Gutierrez, Gov. Carlos Hisa, Enrique Moreno, Barbara Perez, Cindy Ramos-Davidson, Silvestre Reyes, Belen Robles, Mayor Maya Sanchez and Theresa Ware-Asbury.

The ordinance establishing the subcommittee tasked the committee with eight tasks to undertake. They are:

1. The size of the cultural center
2. The appropriate budget for the construction
3. The resources for enhancing the budget for the cultural center
4. Suggested facilities programing and amenities
5. The types of services
6. Recommendations for funding opportunities
7. Recommendations for public/private partnerships
8. Means for fundraising for the cultural center

As you can see, the location and naming of the cultural center is not included in the tasks assigned to the subcommittee. During city council discussion about a possible location, city attorney Silvia Forth Borunda reminded city council that the location for the cultural center was to be in District 8 as per the Quality of Life Bonds ordinances. When the discussion started to delve into specific locations, Tommy Gonzalez reminded city council that discussions about specific locations should be held in executive session to avoid the possibility of pricing going up for any realty purchases for the center.

City council retired into executive session for a few minutes to discuss the location issue after Gonzalez was asked by Lily Limon if the city was actively engaged in looking for locations. Council went into executive session to discuss the status of locations for the cultural center and the children’s museum. No public comment was made after city council returned from executive session about possible locations.

The city attorney agreed to bring back to city council an amendment to the ordinance establishing the subcommittee to add the additional tasks of deliberating and proposing a name for the cultural center and a “general” location for it.

Esparza also reported that three groups comprised of subcommittee members to address the specific tasks assigned to the subcommittee. Group 1 is the “Facility size and programming” group. It is focusing on items one, four and five as per the tasks listed above. Group 2 is the “Budget” group. It is focusing on items two and three. The final group, number three is the “Fundraising” group. This group is focusing on six, seven and eight. Esparza reported that all of the groups have already met. Jaime Esparza added that Mexican-American Cultural Institute (MACI) has been actively involved in the process.

Emma Acosta asked for more information about MACI. She stated that she has been approached by members of the community that have been asking for more information about the group. Acosta stated that she “was not approached” to join the group. Esparza responded that MACI is an “informal group” and does not have formal membership requirements. He added, “all are welcome” to the MACI meetings.

Acosta reiterated that she wants Esparza to inform her of the MACI meetings. She stated, “three of us have never been invited to attend” apparently referring to the Hispanic members of city council.

The subcommittee is currently surveying local artists and cultural practitioners for comments about the cultural center. The findings are expected by May 20.

Although some in the news media continues to label the cultural center as the “Hispanic” cultural center, the fact is that it has not been officially designated as such. Some members of the community continue to argue that it should be named the “heritage” center. The city attorney is expected to bring back an amendment to the ordinance for the subcommittee adding the task of suggesting a name for city council action.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “Cultural Center Update”

  1. “… to avoid the possibility of pricing going up for any realty purchases for the center.”
    If they use Russ Vandenburg to appraise the property you can be sure the current owner will get top dollar and the tax payers will get the bill. Like the EP Times stadium-support-for-building-sale deal.

  2. about 50% of the informed and educated people in el paso will never set foot in whatever this becomes. i couldnt care less nor will ever set foot in any cultural center. ill sit back and giggle though.

  3. Just the mere mentioning of District 8 caused the price of any lot, that is fir sake, to increase in value.

    From the looks of the committee, they’re hand picked to ensure the naming will be some variation of making a Mexican center. Incredible and they wonder why there is no trust. Why have a committee when they’ve already decided ?

    The common sense needed is not present. Talk about rewriting history, this is definitely it ! They’re ignoring contributions of other groups. Why does a city that is overwhemingly Mexican need a “museum” to remind them who they are? Look around, its not like there are only 3 Mexicans in town. And to name it Hispanic and exclude South Americans, Central Americans, Carribean and Spain is more stupid. Tourist want to see who and how El Paso came to being, perhaps have some pride that their ethic group contributed. Why the misleading impression that only Mexicans did anything ?

    This bs is going to be shoved down the publics throat and cause discontent around the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if tourists didn’t decide this is a city suffering from complete stupidity and a severe case of enthocentism. I for one know who and what I am and don’t need a center(wink museum) to boost my pride. The whole project reeks of racism.

    Good luck, the project has already sunk even though there will be a structure.

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