- Felicia Matlosz
FRESNO, CA – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) on Wednesday, September 7, will present a $7 million check to Arte Américas for its renovation and program expansion to broaden its access as the only Latino cultural arts center in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
The presentation and news conference will begin at 9 a.m. at Arte Américas, 1630 Van Ness Ave. in downtown Fresno. It is at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Calaveras Street.
Arte Américas, established in 1987, focuses on Latino arts and culture, reflecting the history and voice of the Latino people who make up the majority in the Central Valley region. The center has attracted tens of thousands of people to its art exhibitions, live events, and educational programs. Just last month, Arte Américas ended a popular sixmonth run of the “Boom Oaxaca” art installation.
Assemblymember Arambula said: “I am extremely pleased I could secure these State funds for Arte Américas, and I hope this will be transformative for an institution that has showcased the artistic, cultural, and social lives of Latinos. Arte Américas has earned a stellar reputation for its work and outreach. These funds will allow it to undertake much-needed renovations and staffing additions, which in turn will boost its educational programs and connection to our communities, not just to Latinos but to everyone who appreciates the beautiful diversity of our Valley.”
Vivian Velasco Paz, President of the Arte Américas Board of Directors, said the state funds will dramatically impact the center’s ability to address several needs, such as deferred maintenance in the 111-year-old historic building that initially was a stately residence and then different businesses before becoming the home of Arte Américas. Plans include renovating the second floor so it can be used for events.
“We are so excited,” Velasco Paz said. ”We are striving to become a premier cultural center and an accredited museum, which would enable us to host more prominent art exhibitions … We should be able to host international art exhibitions while, at the same time, continue to feature and elevate our local Latino artists.”
Arte Américas representatives also are thrilled by the opportunity to expand educational programs for children, especially for youngsters in rural communities and other outlying areas.
Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias, whose district includes the cultural arts center, said the State funds will significantly strengthen Arte Américas’ operations and plans for the future. He said the City of Fresno has allocated $400,000 to the center and additional funds will come from Measure P, a 3/8-cent sales tax that is expected to generate millions of dollars annually for 30 years for Fresno parks and cultural arts.
Arias said: “This investment not only will enhance the cultural arts in our Valley but will contribute to the economic vitality of downtown Fresno and the city.”
The State allocation is part of the support that Arte Américas has attracted in its history. The “Boom Oaxaca” exhibit, for example, was financed by the McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment. The Ruiz Family, founders of Ruiz Foods, Inc. headquartered in Dinuba, provided a major donation to help begin remodeling efforts that transformed the building’s design into gallery spaces. Later, Fresno native author Gary Soto was instrumental in helping the center acquire two adjacent lots that became the outdoor performance space. The Carlos and Vivian Paz Family contributed a major donation to support the outdoor plaza, which now is called Plaza Paz.
The newly announced $7 million in State funds for Arte Américas are part of the $21.5 million in General Fund allocations that Assemblymember Arambula secured this legislative year for a variety of local agencies and nonprofit organizations in the 31st Assembly District.