The seven-year-old boycott of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego’s historic Chicano/a community arts center, has ended after the adoption by popular vote of a comprehensive and dynamic boycott resolution agreement.
The Save Our Centro Coalition, initiators of the boycott, announced the end of the boycott on April 21 at the 37th annual Chicano Park Day celebration in Barrio Logan. The announcement came after 18 months of negotiations between representatives of the Centro’s Board of Trustees and the Save Our Centro Coalition.
As a result of the negotiations, which were mediated by a team from the National Conflict Resolution Center, a boycott resolution agreement was adopted which guaranteed the addition of SOCC members to the Centro Board, re-established the Centro’s Arts Advisory Committee, created a Community Advisory Council and enacted several new policies to address perceived conflict of interest issues and to stimulate transparency and community participation in the Centro.
Additionally, two newly-appointed SOCC-related Centro Board members will serve on the screening committee for the hiring of the organization’s new Executive Director, and a committee will be formed to review, restore and catalogue the Centro’s historic art collection.
The boycott of the Centro was launched in May 2000 by a large group of artists, activists, educators, students, cultural workers, Centro founders and former staff members who believed that policies enacted by a new management were exclusionary and removed mech-anisms for transparency and accountability at the Centro. Since the beginning of the boycott, both the Centro and the Save Our Centro Coalition have continued to serve San Diego’s diverse community and to uphold the mission of the Centro Cultural de la Raza through projects and programs throughout the region.
“We are excited to have reached an agreement which addresses the issues of the boycott and restores the Centro as a home for our community at a time when its mission is more important than ever,” said SOCC member Victor Payan. “We thank all those who have worked with us during the years and look forward to using our creative resources to make the Centro bigger and better than ever.”
“The transition team has done an excellent job focusing on the Centro’s mission and its future goals,” said Maria Cervantes, President of the Centro’s Board of Trustees. “We must continue to keep the core values that created the Centro as a place for the community, while extending our culture to include additional attributes necessary for our future growth.”
A joint transition team, comprised of members of both organizations, has been formed to reunite the Chicano/a arts community into the Centro, its historic home in Balboa Park. The first project the transition team will work on is the Legacy Initiative, which will celebrate and document the Centro’s 37-year history with an exhibition of works by early Centro artists, including Guillermo Rosette Chavez, Guillermo Aranda, Victor Ochoa, Sal Torres, Yolanda Lopez, Elida Chavez, David Avalos, Teresa Hoyos and others. The exhibition is expected to open this summer, and will be the first time many of these artists have exhibited at the Centro in seven years.