On Tuesday, El Paso City Council voted to look at alternative ways to deliver the voter-approved Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC).
Council reached this decision after the City and Mexican American Cultural Institute (MACI) were unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the memorandum of understanding proposed by MACI.
As part of its vote, Council directed City staff to pursue alternate site locations for the Mexican American Cultural Center and to develop it using the budget approved by voters.
According to a Tuesday news release, “The City looks forward to working with all community partners including MACI to realize this project…the City remains committed to delivering a world-class cultural center as approved by voters and complemented by existing cultural assets within the City’s portfolio that includes the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.”
The MACC was approved by voters in 2012 as one of the signature projects included in the Quality of Life Bonds with an original project budget of $5.7 million.
In August 2015, the 18 member Mexican American Cultural Center Subcommittee recommended the MACC be located at the Abraham Chavez Theatre despite the significant escalation of costs as presented by City staff.
In January of 2016, Council accepted the subcommittee’s recommendation to locate the cultural center at the Abraham Chavez Theatre with an estimated cost of $35.7 million. MACI, whose members comprised nine of the 18 members of the original subcommittee, was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in summer of 2016 with the goal of becoming the City’s partner in managing the cultural center and raising $20 million towards capital costs.
Since mid-2016, MACI has been formally incorporated with the ability to raise funds. Prior to that MACI was able to raise funds through non-profit fiscal sponsor Fiesta de las Flores. However, since their incorporation, MACI has not made significant progress in fundraising necessary for the escalated project costs if the Abraham Chavez Theatre was the site.
Cities including San Antonio and City El Paso have seen successful campaigns through partnerships without a formal memorandum of understanding.
- 1991, San Antonio Public Library Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3), began a fundraising campaign to assist the City of San Antonio in the construction of a new Central Library. Bond set aside approximately $75 million for the library construction
- Library Foundation was tasked with the job of raising an additional $32 million for furniture, fixtures, equipment technology, renovation of a City-owned parking garage and other amenities. The goal was met and surpassed.
- 2010, San Antonio River Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, began capital campaign to improve urban reach of San Antonio River
- City project, funded through bonds and Hotel Occupancy Tax funds, for construction
- Foundation, capital campaign raised $30 million, for art, the Dam, landscaping and other upgrades
- 2013, San Antonio Botanical Garden, granted $2.6 million bond funding, land and facilities owned by City
- Botanical Society runs the Garden
- Currently in $15 million capital campaign to support site improvements
El Paso examples:
- Chalk the Block private sector committee has raised more than $800,000 in support of program over the 10 year history of the festival without a memorandum of understanding in place
- El Paso Children’s Museum Foundation, raised more than $1 million before a formal memorandum of understanding was executed with the City