On September 15, 2007, after several years of a master plan development, the long-awaited dream of the Latino, Chicano and Mexican-American artistic community became reality: a brand new contemporary-style building on 600 River St., in the heart of the Historic District of Rainey Street, was inaugurated.
The construction was created to host the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, an institution that would work to preserve the Mexican American arts and cultural heritage in the city.
Few years before that, the previously called Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts had gone from being a nonprofit dedicated to promote Chicano and Latino cultures and their artistic expressions to becoming an entity managed by the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, as it stands until now.
One decade after its inauguration, the building–designed by a team of architects led by the late prominent architect from Mexico Teodoro González de León–has provided the local Latino arts community with a space for the widespread display of their artistic expressions, with regional, national and international significance.
“The ESB-MACC brought together a wide diversity of community groups who were passionate about Latino arts and culture,” said Laura Esparza, manager for the Museums and Cultural Programs division of the Parks and Recreation department. “It has the largest visitor base of any of the cultural centers in Austin.”
To celebrate its history, achievements and the 10th anniversary of their current headquarters, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) will host two days of festivities within the framework of its traditional annual Mexican Día de la Independencia celebration, on September 15 and 16.
The festivities, called “Celebrating The Past, Illuminating The Future,” will begin on September 15 at 6 p.m. with the opening of the exhibit “Vida y Obra: 50 Years of Art & Activism by Raúl Valdez,” featuring the work of the Texas-born muralist and human rights defender.
“It was important to have Raúl Valdez as part of our 10th year anniversary because his work represents our past and future,” said Herlinda Zamora, culture and arts education manager at the ESB-MACC. “He has a long history of community-based mural work creating several murals around Austin about each community.”
The opening ceremony will feature activist and East Austin expert Gilbert Rivera and artist and close ESB-MACC collaborator Roén Salinas as guest speakers.
On the second day, September 16, there will be family activities and tours beginning at 4 p.m. The anniversary events will close with the big Mexican Dia de la Independencia celebration, which includes live music by bands like The Johnny Degollado Trio, Street People, and traditional ballet folklórico performances.
“There’s a marimba group from Mexico; Lourdes Pérez comes with a special band. There will also be the dance group Danza Azteca Guadalupana,” added ESB-MACC’s Media, Marketing & Event Coordinator Linda Crockett. “The celebrations will be similar to the traditional MACC’s Dia de la Independencia celebration, but within a much more special atmosphere”.
More exciting news surround the ESB-MACC: The center is planning to renew its original foundational plan to adapt it to the new necessities of the Hispanic community. The reality of the Hispanic community in Austin 10 years ago differs from the reality now, making this an important step forward. The plan includes a renovation of the center’s premises.
“So much has changed! And so much that the public would like to see at the ESB-MACC is limited because we don’t have the room,” Esparza continued. “We hope to better serve the Latino community in Austin with a larger and more flexible venue.”