Santa Ana’s Latino youth and culture organization, El Centro Cultural de Mexico, which was booted from its location at the Knights of Pythias building on Fifth Street late last year, has found a new home.
El Centro volunteers are sprucing up their new space on Third Street next to the Orange County Bar Foundation, painting the walls, hanging artwork and preparing various rooms for music and art classes. El Centro volunteers plan to show off the new space in a grand opening Saturday.
The Latino organization was told in June by the Chase family, which owns the Knights of Pythias building, that it had one month to leave its location. El Centro was then given a two-month extension after Santa Ana Councilman Vincent Sarmiento spoke with Irving Chase, son-in-law of the building’s owner and himself a major property owner.
El Centro, a mainstay in Santa Ana’s Latino community, had occupied its former location for five years. The organization offers 23 classes and conducts workshops that explore Latino music, dance, art and culture. The organization is known as a hub for Latino youth.
The organization’s volunteers have also been fiercely opposed to what they say is ongoing gentrification of the city’s downtown core. They recently held a protest using song, dance and theater to protest the scrubbing of Latino culture.
In a street play during the protest, proponents of the special tax that funds Downtown Inc., the downtown’s booster organization, and Santa Ana City Council members, were cast as villains.
— ADAM ELMAHREK