In an unprecedented collaboration, the Riverside Latino Network, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GRHCC), and the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation announced on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the Latino Network’s Nuestra Navidad Breakfast, and on and on Thursday, December 14, 2017, at the GRHCC Holiday Mixer, a collective $90,000 pledge to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry. Each organization is pledging $30,000. And together they are planning to raise a total of $250,000 for The Cheech.

“As chairman of the Reach for The Cheech Community Campaign, I am so proud that these three groups have made a bold commitment to support this center – the first in the nation,” says Ofelia Valdez-Yeager.

A new art space in a mid-century setting, the center will be, as Cheech says, the “center of Chicano art, not only painting, but sculpture, photography, and video arts.” Opening in 2020, The Cheech will explore Chicano culture from the barrio to the Bay, cholos to Cesar Chavez, pre-Columbian to modern murals. It will be housed next door to the historic Mission Inn in a 61,420-square-foot facility, which was originally opened to the public as the Riverside Public Library in 1964. The Cheech is a perfect adaptive reuse of this mid-century building and the historic and vintage aspects will be preserved in its transformation from a library to a museum and cultural center.

“This project promises to bring a new dimension to our arts programming in Riverside,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim Perry said. “This exciting look at the contributions of Latinos to the growth and prosperity of California and the nation will be of immense interest, not just to all areas of Riverside, but around the world.”

Cheech Marin is gifting his art collection to the Center. He has developed the finest private collection of Chicano art in the United States. Much of it formed the core of his blockbuster exhibition, Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 12-city tour during 2001 – 2007 to major art museums across the U.S.

“I wish to thank the Latino Network, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation for their meaningful support of The Cheech,” says Cheech Marin. “I am humbled and deeply grateful for your generosity. It’s great to know that we are in this together.”

President of the Latino Network Ninfa Delgado states, “This center will be a dynamic daily demonstration of the presence and voice of the Chicano Latino community and what we can accomplish when we work together.” The Latino Network (“La Net”) is a nonprofit organization established in 1993 to provide a forum to address community issues affecting and impacting the Latino community in Riverside, California, and the surrounding areas and provides a vehicle for the dissemination of information and the sharing of resources.

“The Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been committed to the local Chicano Latino small business community for nearly forty years and we are very proud to be a part of such a vibrant community celebrating Chicano art, culture, and industry,” says Emilio Ramirez, Chairman of the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The GRHCC is committed to supporting small businesses and economic development by providing access, advocacy, business referrals, marketing opportunities, training programs, student internships, and scholarships.

“Spanish Town Heritage Foundation is committed to the Cheech and its success in our community not only as a beacon of our rich Latino culture, but as the dot on the exclamation point of our culture’s impact on THIS community beginning with pre-Riverside’s La Placita,” says Nancy Melendez, President of the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation.

“It is very gratifying to see three organizations with a history of leadership in this community step up in such a significant way on such an important project,” City Manager John Russo said. “Clearly, they believe in this project and are eager to bring it to fruition. Their generosity is inspiring.”

The City of Riverside, Cheech Marin, and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) have worked together through much of this year to move the vision of the Cheech Marin Center toward reality. In May, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RAM and Marin to determine the project’s feasibility. That MOU requires the City to hire consultants and work with RAM and Marin to develop a facility assessment, art center programming, conceptual plans, and rough cost estimates. The City of Riverside, RAM, and Marin, working with local state legislators, already have obtained $1 million in funding from the State of California. The Reach for The Cheech Capital Campaign Committee is conducting an extensive campaign to generate donations to meet a goal of $3 million by the end of May 2018.

“The community is really embracing this project, and that is evident in these generous donations,” City Councilmember Andy Melendrez said. “The excitement The Cheech has generated in the community is significant, and I look forward to seeing more individuals and groups step up to the plate.”

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