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Grand Opening April 16, 2011

Mon, 2011-03-28
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L.A.’s First Mexican American Cultural Center Joins Los Angeles County Arts Family,

Honors the History and Contributions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans to the Area

LOS ANGELES (March 28, 2011) – LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LA Plaza), Los Angeles’ first Mexican American cultural center, will celebrate its grand opening with an exciting slate of activities on April 16, 2011.  Located adjacent to the popular Olvera Street marketplace and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument (where Los Angeles was founded in 1781), the 2.22 acre facility, part of the Los Angeles County Arts Family and a Smithsonian Affiliate, celebrates the influence of Mexican and Mexican American culture on Los Angeles and Southern California.  


“The Mexican and Mexican American presence has permeated Los Angeles  for over 200 years, touching and enriching everyone in this global metropolis,” said LA Plaza’s President and CEO Miguel Ángel Corzo.  “We at LA Plaza are thrilled to tell the vital story of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles and feel LA Plaza is the cultural institution our great city has been waiting for.”


On Saturday, April 16, LA Plaza will open its doors to the public with a day-long free family celebration, made possible by Target.  From 10am to 4pm, visitors will enjoy live music, arts workshops, founding membership discounts, and tours of major exhibition LA Starts Here!.  Performers will include Los Angeles vallenato favorites VeryBeCareful, tropicalia soul masters Chicano Batman, and East L.A. fusion rockers Ollin.  Mask-making, sculpture, paint, and print-making workshops will be conducted by Inner-City Arts and LAartlab.  Tickets for April 16 Grand Opening events are free, but must be reserved in advance by logging onto lapca.org or by calling 213.542.6254 beginning Tuesday, March 29.  Tickets are timed and valid only for the date and time selected.  Guests must have a ticket to attend Grand Opening.


Surrounded by 30,000 square feet of garden and housed within the newly renovated Vickrey-Brunswig Building and Plaza House on Main Street in downtown, LA Plaza invites visitors to both explore and contribute to the ongoing story of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles.


Inaugural exhibition LA Starts Here!, the first of its kind in scope and stance, reveals the essential, often overlooked role of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the founding and shaping of Los Angeles’ history and culture, from the city’s founding in 1781 to the present.  Through iconic artifacts, one-of-a-kind interactive experiences, captivating films, and even user-submitted content, the exhibition unveils Los Angeles as a multicultural project from the very beginning.


On the center’s second floor, hands-on interpretive history center Calle Principal takes children and families back in time to the Mexican American community of 1920s-era Main Street Los Angeles, when the area surrounding LA Plaza was the heart of the city’s growing immigrant community.


Open by appointment, community history center Centro Yo Soy invites visitors to record their own cultural experiences; while original short film series Voces Vivas, on display throughout the campus, features a broad spectrum of Mexican Americans sharing their personal histories.  


Outside, LA Plaza’s El Jardín includes an outdoor stage and performance space, edible learning garden, outdoor kitchen and classrooms, and additional event space.  Adjacent to El Jardín, guests will reach LA Plaza’s main entrance through a public walkway, accessible from Main and Spring Streets and featuring a vertical garden and multimedia installations.


LA Plaza joins the Los Angeles County Arts Family, alongside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), and the Music Center.  In 2002, LA Plaza was granted 501(c)(3) status, and in 2004 became an official project of Los Angeles County, who will be responsible for LA Plaza’s maintenance and operations.  Additional funding for the center will be covered by private and corporate donations.  Work began on the campus in 2008. LA Plaza is the longtime dream of Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who championed the project for over 10  years.


LA Plaza’s mission will be further illuminated through exciting and unprecedented public programs, including musical performances, film screenings, community family days, and discussion series.  LA Plaza’s summer public program series will be announced later this spring.  Beginning in fall 2011, the center will also offer innovative educational programming for children, families, teachers, and school groups.  


LA Plaza’s interiors were designed by Chu+Gooding Architects and its exterior grounds by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, both located in Los Angeles.  LA Starts Here! was designed by the Santa Monica-based IQ Magic.  Experience design firm Apologue created the multimedia walkway presentation.  Voces Vivas were produced by award-winning filmmaker Pedro Pablo Celedón and Barefoot Productions.