At groundbreaking ceremonies for the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts the Hispanic Culture Foundation was recipient of a million-dollar donation. Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of the Board of Directors of The Walt Disney Company, gave a personal gift of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) to the Foundation and the Disney Foundation contributed another five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). The donations will be used to help construct a $22 million center for performing arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center located in the historic Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque. Disney also pledges to lead the effort to raise twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) for the Foundation's work and will be honorary chairman of the campaign.
Disney told a gathering of Albuquerque residents that he really had to thank the Hispanic culture for all they had done for him and this country. He said his grandfathers and their fathers would be proud to know that the Hispanic Culture Foundation was honoring their name.
The Board of Trustees of the Hispanic Culture Foundation decided to name the facility after Disney because of all he has done for the Hispanic community. Disney launched the movie premier of "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" in Albuquerque in 1998 to benefit the National Hispanic Cultural Center. New Mexico native and film director, Frank Zuniga says, "Before it was politically correct or commercially viable, Disney produced five films on the Hispanic experience as early as 1963." The films with Hispanic themes he produced prior to "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" were "Three Without Fear," "Cristabolito," "Mustang," "Chango, Guardian of the Mayan Treasures," and "The Legend of El Blanco." Disney films with Hispanic themes produced in the 1940's include "Saludos Amigos" and "3 Caballeros."
The state-of-the-art Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts will consist of approximately 81,000 square feet of space. It will house a 750-seat proscenium theatre, a 300-seat film and video theatre and a 150-seat black box theatre with a second level observation area. In addition there will be two rehearsal areas, one that replicates the stage in the 700-seat theatre. Modern broadcast and recording suites, scenery storage and construction areas, 4 music rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, and a VIP guest holding area known as a Green Room will make the facility the most modern in the state and region. Lobbies, foyers, concessions and courtyards that allow for comfortable movement and a visually stimulating environment, will surround all performance areas. Com-pletion of the construction is scheduled for the Fall of 2002.
Frank Figueroa, president of the Hispanic Culture Foundation says, "We are elated with Mr. Disney's gift and that Mr. Disney is so supportive of our efforts to preserve Hispanic culture and performing arts for the entire nation. The Roy E. Disney Center of the Performing Arts will become a premier site for performers and visitors from all over the world. Mr. Disney is leaving an amazing legacy, by making our dream of a National Hispanic Cultural Center a reality."