Originally posted on the New York Times by
The new center, in Riverside, Calif., will be dedicated exclusively to showcasing Mexican-American art and culture.
Plans for the center, which will be managed by the Riverside Art Museum, have been in the works for nearly four years. The city will contribute about $1 million per year under a 25-year agreement to cover operating costs, and the Riverside Art Museum is funding the $13.3 million renovation costs for the former library building through a $9.7 million state grant and private donations.
Riverside’s mayor, Patricia Lock Dawson, said in a statement that she looked forward to the days after the pandemic, when the institution, which will hold both traditional and contemporary art, could draw thousands of visitors to the city’s historic Mission Inn District. She also foresees the institution’s benefiting the local business community.
But though the measure to create the center passed the City Council on a 4-0 vote, three of the seven members abstained, among them Chuck Conder, who said he feared the 25-year agreement could cripple the city’s finances in the long run. He called it a “betrayal” of taxpayers at a time that the city is struggling financially and is facing potential costs of $19 million to $32 million per year as a result of a court decision on the use of public utility fees, according to the Press-Enterprise, a local news outlet.
“No matter how you slice it,” Conder said, $10 million is “a lot of money to spend on a museum that wasn’t supposed to cost us anything.”
The center is expected to generate $3 million annually for the city in its first decade of operation, based on an expected annual attendance of 100,000 visitors, according to a city report. The Riverside Art Museum currently has about 50,000 visitors a year.
“My motto has always been that you can’t love or hate Chicano art unless you see it in person,” Marin said. “And now people will have a place to always see it.”
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