Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore has a new home!

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore now has a new home! As of March 2009, we will be located at the Sylmar Plaza off the 210 Freeway on Hubbard, just past the Dennys, and down the street from Mission College. We plan a grand opening on March 31 and will inform all the community about our move.

It's been a long and hard road to get here.

As many of you know, Tia Chucha's Centro was pushed out of our original Sylmar, CA space after five years when the landlords tripled our rent to make room for a high-end Laundromat. This was a terrible setback to our space that was the only art gallery, cultural space, and bookstore for the Northeast San Fernando Valley -- which consists of many communities and some 450,000 people (about the size of Oakland). In March of 2007, we rented a smaller, cheaper, but highly isolated space in Lake View Terrace, where we have continued our amazing programming, events, and workshops, but without a cafe and without the audiences we used to enjoy.

In the process, my wife Trini and I lost tens of thousands of dollars of investment in the cafe, performance space, workshop center, art gallery, and bookstore. We had to destroy the coffee bar, amazing walls, flooring and such--as well as store all our cafe equipment, signs, books, shelving and more. Then we had a hard time getting a new space in a major development in Pacoima. Again the plaza where we were slated to possibly have a space was derailed after Costco and Best Buy got into the picture. We applaud the jobs these companies would bring, which for Pacoima is a major issue. But we also fought to have a cultural space as well as those jobs so that the quality of life of this community would enhance, not just the economic (one does not need to be pitted against the other). But politics in these communities is one of scarcity, not abundance, and the community was forced to choose between the two. We were practically walked out the door on that development.

Then the storage place where we had tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, files, shelves, books, signage, and more was broken into three times. We lost everything of value. Again, a terrible setback since we will not be able to replace these at this time.

Any of this would have destroyed other spaces and independent bookstores. The main thing is we never gave up.

We continued to get individual donations and support from such notables as Bruce Springsteen, John Densmore of the Doors, Cheech Marin, Richard Foos, Lou Adler, Dave Marsh, Adrienne Rich, Jack Kornfield, and others. We worked hard on grants and received much-appreciated funding from LA City's Department of Cultural Affairs, California Arts Council, LA County Arts Commission, Community Redevelopment Agency, the Center for Cultural Innovations, the Panta Rhea Foundation, the Attias Family Foundation, the Middleton Foundation, the City of San Fernando, the Annenberg Foundation, and more.

We were able to continue our Music LA workshops in guitar, Son Jarocho Mexican traditional music, Brazilian Martial Arts/Dance Capoeira, Flutes, Drumming, and more. We established our own Danza Azteca group called Temachtia Quetzacoatl. We continued publishing new and powerful poet through Tia Chucha Press, now in its twentieth year. We also produced CDs through Dos Manos Records. And we created the only literacy and arts festival in the Northeast Valley for three years in a row called "Celebrating Words: Written, Performend & Sung" in Sylmar. We also presented weekly Open Mics, regular author readings, film nights, natural health discussions, indigenous Mexicayotl and Nahuatl classes, and community dialogues. We've had musical presentations as well as theater, writing, and other workshops. And about twice a month through the school year, we've had field trips from schools throughout the LA area (a school in Oakland has come twice) where we try to get a book into the hands of every student.

In addition, we had a successful art auction at the home of John Densmore that netted $16,000 for artists and another $13,000 for Tia Chucha's. And for three years now, we've held a benefit event at Hollywood's famous Ford Amphitheater called "Celebrating Community & Culture: Si Se Puede/Yes We Can."

We also expanded our board (after integrating the LLC cafe into the nonprofit Centro) to include leaders from the Chicano, African American, Asian, and European American communities.

Now, finally, we have a beautiful space in a new building to continue this amazing array of programming, publishing, festivals and benefits.

More will be forthcoming about our new space, including new address, phones, and our grand opening. I'll announce it here but you can also go to www.tiachucha.com for more information.

Please support Tia Chucha's and spaces like this. In the LA area, there is Teocintli in Boyle Heights, Casa 101 in Boyle Heights, Nahui Ohlin in Echo Park, Antigua Cafe in Cypress Park, Homegirl Cafe in downtown/Chinatown, Chimes in San Fernando, House of Brews in San Fernando, Mayazteca in West Covina, Imix Bookstore in Eagle Rock.. and others. We all need to be supported with your presence, your art, your financial and moral support.

As far as I'm concerned, there should be places like these in every barrio and neighborhood in the LA area.


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