In 2012, El Paso voters overwhelmingly approved a Quality of Life Bond program, which included the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) as one of its signature projects.
The MACC will provide residents and visitors with a dynamic space for the creation, exhibition and celebration of Mexican American art and culture.
Below are several frequently asked questions about the project:
Where will it be located?
The recommended site for the MACC is to expand a wing of the Main Library in Downtown.
Co-locating the cultural center with the library downtown, in close proximity to tourist and cultural amenities, should lead to higher visitation and larger economic impact for the community.
The MACC will be located in the heart of the Downtown Arts District, a vibrant area where over 1.5 million El Pasoans and tourists visit each year.
The project will be strategically placed near the planned Children’s Museum, the El Paso Museum of Art and the El Paso Museum of History and within walking distance from the Plaza Theatre, the Convention Center, Southwest University Park, three parking garages, public transit and multiple hotels.
Why is that the preferred site?
The site features approximately 40,000 square feet of programmable space, which is nearly two times more than the space available at the previously explored site of Abraham Chavez Theatre at less than half the cost.
The library was previously identified as an option by the HKS study and was discussed by MACC subcommittee.
Why not explore some of the empty buildings available throughout downtown?
Based on public discussions with the MACC subcommittee, it was important to keep the MACC inside the Downtown Arts District, which is a State-designated boundary encompassing 16 already highly developed blocks on northwestern boundary of Downtown.
A few existing vacant facilities were explored, but the renovation costs of those proposed facilities were too expensive and the size (ceilings and layouts) of the buildings limited the type of events and programs recommended to host at the Center by the Council-Appointed Citizen Subcommittee.
Remaining inside the area will make the MACC eligible for competitive State funding for operations, marketing and programming.
Why not a standalone center?
A standalone was not feasible because the land costs were not factored into the project costs.
Co-location of the MACC was discussed beginning in 2015. At one point co-location with the Children’s Museum was proposed publicly, but the City Council was not interested.
The next proposal was the co-location with Chavez Theatre, and was proposed by the Council-Appointed Citizen Subcommittee.
Co-location at the Main Library was discussed as early as 2015—including in some open, live-streamed sessions of the MACC Subcommittee.
How will the Main Library be impacted? Will it be demolished?
The Main Library will not be demolished. Currently, the Library services use and programs only 39% of space in the facility.
It will maintain approximately 60,000 square feet of programmable space (21% more space than is currently used) with existing services and amenities reconfigured, updated and improved. All the programming will be maintained or enhanced.
Will the current Library building’s footprint be reduced?
No—the proposal actually calls for adding square footage to the Cleveland Square-facing façade of the Library as well as adding square footage on top of the roof as usable space.
What will be the space breakdown for the MACC and Main Library?
Library will retain 60 percent of its existing space, which is approximately 60,000 square foot (that is 25 percent larger than the Museum of History, for reference).
The other 40 percent will be allocated to the MACC.
What will be housed in the Main Library’s approximately 60,000 square feet of programmable space?
- Existing services and amenities to be updated and improved
- MACC will repurpose and reactivate underutilized space of Main Library
- Stacks (books, periodicals & media)
- Specialized Children’s Section
- Teen Town
- Adult Education Space - Computer Lab/Classroom
- Border Heritage Center/Archives
- Friends of the Library Store
- Tom Lea Mural
- Potential Public Co-Working Space
- Library Administration
Have other cities co-located these types of facilities?
Libraries co-sharing space with other cultural or educational institutions is a national trend designed to address expectations of 21st Century patrons and stimulate educational opportunities. Some models include:
- Boston’s Main Library now contains Boston’s Public Radio Station’s Broadcasting Studio
- Charlotte’s Main Library shares space now with a Children’s Performing Arts Facility
- San Diego’s new Main Library shares space with a new High School
- One of New York’s Public Libraries shares space with Shomburg Center for Black Culture
- Chicago’s Main Library now features Music Rooms
How does this benefit families and visitors?
The project will reinvest millions into a facility that would not have seen this level of upgrades for decades.
Teen Town, Adult Education Spaces, Children’s Library, Border Heritage will all be retained and enhanced in new layout. Families now visiting the Main Library would not only have access to those services but can:
- Enjoy classes and camps
- Take a cooking lesson in the Teaching Kitchen
- Visit with an Artist In Residence on site creating new work
- Use Dance Studio
- Record Oral History or even Music
- Take advantage of Student Broadcasting Studio
- Visit an exhibition
- Catch a theatre performance or concert
- Archives and shared research capabilities
Has public outreach been conducted?
The MACC is the only 2012 bond-project so far that has had a Subcommittee created of citizens appointed by Mayor and Council to drive deeper public engagement and develop community-driven programming and site recommendations.
The MACC Subcommittee met publicly 19 times, with live-streamed meeting, that provided public comment opportunities and included agendas posted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act requirements.
The project development has consisted of additional extensive public outreach conducted over the course of five years.
Public outreach has included: eight public meetings; two open houses, public presentations to Council and the Bond Oversight Advisory Committee (BOAC), a local artist survey, focus groups and discussions with 200 plus stakeholders including representatives from the business, education, non-profit and cultural sectors across the community. They included:
- City of El Paso Bond Oversight Advisory Committee
- Community En Accion
- El Paso Chamber of Commerce
- El Paso Community College
- El Paso Community Foundation
- El Paso Exploreum
- El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- El Paso ISD
- El Paso Museum of Art Foundation
- Lincoln Park Conservation Committee
- Local artists, historians, and staff of various cultural organizations
- Paso del Norte Health Foundation
- Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Arts
- Ysleta ISD
How is the public feedback being used?
Input from the public and the MACC subcommittee helped share preliminary ideas/concepts. The project development will incorporate or exceed all amenities and programmatic spaces identified as important by stakeholders, including:
- An auditorium
- Black box theatre
- Dance studio
- Oral history/broadcasting
and recording studio
- Archival facilities
- Teaching kitchen
- Rooftop culinary amenity
- Exhibition spaces for both traveling
- Community/hall of fame exhibition
- Multi-use classrooms
- Artist-in-residence studio
- Indoor and outdoor programmable spaces
Will there be more opportunities to provide public input?
Yes. The public will have additional opportunities to continue to provide input and shape the MACC project.
The public will be invited to provide input for the design phase of the MACC as well as for the modifications to the building for library services.
How much will it cost to develop this facility?
The project was significantly underfunded.
The original budget was $5.7 million.
Design and construction is estimated to cost approximately $10 million.
Additional funding will be required for the exhibitions.
What other benefits with co-locating the MACC provide?
The MACC will be a powerful economic driver, amplifying a current annual $103 million economic impact of existing museums and non-profit cultural sector on our economy.
When will the project be completed?
The MACC will be completed in time for its doors to open in 2022.