Downturn recasts National Hispanic Cultural Center
It’s the place where Linda Ronstadt sang “Desperado” to Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. Actor Cheech Marin brought his traveling Chicano art show to the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico, and noted novelist Rudolfo Anaya has given workshops to aspiring writers.
For nearly 12 years, the center has played host to Latino artists and writers from around the U.S. and the Americas as it billed itself as a unique place where Latinos can visit an art exhibit, enjoy a flamenco performance and research family background.
But as the economy turned sour and New Mexico state lawmakers cut funding for museums, the Albuquerque center has had to transition and institute painful cost-saving measures.
The center also experienced a drop in foundation funding and recently had to close its onsite restaurant.
Still, the center is getting by with a smaller staff and more exhibits from New Mexico artists, Gary Romero, interim executive director of the center, said Monday. Attendance at performances is steady and the center is partnering with more private groups to fund projects, he said.
“Our staff has gotten real creative,” Romero said. “We are using more local artists to keep costs minimal and we’ve been slow to take down permanent collections. It’s worked out so far.”
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