By: Connie Ransom & Charlotte Mckenzie
The City of Arts & Innovation is humming with excitement. Why? Last month Governor Brown signed the State Budget, including $9.7 Million for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry. This, on the heels of recently reaching the initial fundraising goal with a $600,000 donation from Altura Credit Union, has brought certainty to a dream!
The Cheech, as it is fondly referred to by its namesake Cheech Marin, started as a dream in 2017. The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) presented a portion of Marin’s noteworthy collection of Chicano Art to record breaking attendance at the Museum. The relationship between the actor and art collector and Riverside grew with that success. This lead to the City of Riverside, RAM and Cheech Marin beginning talks about bringing Marin’s 700+ piece collection of Chicano Art to Riverside.
Timing is everything. Riverside’s 1965 built downtown library building is “available”. Repurposing the building has been a goal of the City since the City Council voted to build a new library nearby. The old library, owned by the city, is a 61,420 square foot building, and the New Formalism architecture is a perfect match for the Cheech.
To date nearly $13 million has been raised by the “Reach for the Cheech” campaign. These funds will refurbish the building and create space where Marin’s collection can be housed. The goal is not only to display works of art but to create a cultural center. The upper level of the building will house space for programs, lectures, temporary exhibits and performances. The main level will showcase Marin’s collection, and the lower level will become an academic resource center with rooms for education classes as well as storage for the collection.
People can donate by texting the word “Cheech” to 91-999 or visiting thecheechcenter.org for other ways to contribute.