Centro Cultural de la Raza
The Centro Cultural de la Raza is a non-profit organization with the specific mission to create, preserve, promote and educate about Chicano, Mexicano, Native American and Latino art and culture. It is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California.
The Centro provides classes and presentations on drama, music, dance, and arts and crafts, many of which have origins in Mexico and "Aztlán," a term used by Chicanos to indicate the American Southwest. Programs include Azteca dance, Teatro Chicano, film screenings, exhibits, musical performances, installation art, readings, receptions and other events. The Centro's resident Ballet Folklorico company also operates a dance academy. In addition, the Centro is available as a meeting place for community groups and organizations.
The Centro's circular building, originally a water storage tank constructed during World War II, has offices and workrooms, studios, and a theater. It is one of the largest Chicano cultural arts buildings in the Southwest, and is identifiable by a number of murals painted near the building's main entrance.
San Diego’s Centro Cultural de la Raza is a Chicano Cultural Center founded in 1970 in San Diego as an alternative program to encourage and facilitate artistic growth and cultural interchange in the San Diego/Tijuana region. The Centro's mission is to create, preserve, promote, and educate about Mexican@, Chican@, Indigenous and Latin@ art and culture.
The cultural center supports and encourages the creative expression “of those people who are indigenous to the border region.” Although established in 1970, its origins stem to the mid-to-late 1960s, when local Chicano artists were becoming aware that they needed a place where they could develop and preserve the contributions and ideologies of San Diego’s native population. Those active in forming the center and the organization of Los Toltecas en Aztlán, the organizing body of the center, were Salvador Torres, Guillermo Aranda, Ruben de Anda, Mario Acevedo Torero, Victor Ochoa, David Avalos, the Enrique Family, the Delia Moreno Family, and others. Though much of the formative years of the center’s philosophy and ideology began in the mid 60’s, the center’s official inauguration was in July 1970 when the city of San Diego allowed the group to locate the cultural center in Balboa Park. Through much political and social opposition in the 1970s due to subject matter of murals and debate on the question of where they would be based, the cultural center endured and became very strong with the backing of its community members.
The Centro has given birth to many artistic groups, such as MALAF, the Mexican American Liberation Art Front, and Teatro Mestizo. It also provides art classes and drama, music, dance and arts and crafts presentations, many of which have origins in Mexico and "Aztlán," a term used by Chicanos to indicate the American Southwest. The Centro's circular building, adorned with murals by various artists, has offices and workrooms, studios, a theater, and much wall space for mural projects. It is one of the largest Chicano cultural arts buildings in the Southwest.
The Centro is known internationally as a dynamic cultural center where academics such as Shifra Goldman, Tomas Ybarra Frausto and Chon Noriega could be found conversing with community members as well as artists such as Magu, Luis Valdez, Judy Baca, Sergio Arau, Lalo Guerrero, Jose Montoya, Barbara Carrasco, Gabino Palomares and El Vez. Groups that formed through the work of the Centro include: Ballet Folklórico en Aztlán, founded by Herminia Enrique; Congreso de Artistas Chicanos en Aztlán, founded by Salvador Torres; and Trio Moreno, a musical group, the Taco Shop Poets, BAWTAF (The Border Arts Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo). In addition countless artists, musicians, performers, writers, dancers and activists were nurtured at the Centro, including Culture Clash, Gronk, Guillermo Gomez Peña, Lalo Lopez Alcaraz, the Taco Shop Poets, Yareli Arizmendi, James Luna, David Avalos, Dora Areola, Chicano Secret Service, Richard A. Lou, Robert J. Sanchez, Mario Acevedo Torero, and Isaac Artenstein - all of whom have achieved prominence in the arts and culture community.
As a cultural center, it not only promotes creative expression in art and formal art classes, but also includes in its busy schedule a variety of workshops in danza folklórica as well as other interpretive dance forms, music, theatre, spoken word, drumming and more. In addition, numerous public presentations including exhibitions, concerts, installations, theater, dance, spoken word and multi-media events take place at the Centro.
The Centro Cultural de la Raza Archives from 1970-1999 are housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara (Collection: CEMA 12).
- (English) Centro Cultural de la Raza's website