This Cultural Center Bears the Name of a Tenacious Latina

 | December 28, 2022

Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.

Modeled after the traditional zocalos of Mexico, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center is an ever-expanding community space.

Named after the political activist, organizer, and champion of all things art and culture, Emma Serrato Barrientos, the Cultural Center was born after years of efforts to spotlight the varied contributions of the Mexican American/Chicano community, with a specific focus on visual and performing arts. 

The initial push for the space began in the early 70s, at the height of the Chicano movement. Multiple artists and culture creators in the region started to ask the city to build a space that would foster “a meaningful understanding and appreciation of not only Mexican American but also Native American, Chicano, and other Latino cultures.” 

Barrientos, along with her husband Gonzalo, the first Mexican American state representative of their county, assisted in spearheading the push for the center. 

It took a little more than a decade before the City Council created a “task force” to determine if the request was even possible. It would be another 29 years of fights, votes, bonds, failures, and eventual passing through city council before the ground was broken on the center, and an additional two years of construction — but finally, in 2007, the ribbon cutting ceremony took place. 

Today, thousands of people visit the center each year to take part in the variety of shows, exhibits, and cultural traditions that take place there. 

Things to Know Before You Go: 

  • You actually won’t be able to visit the ESB-MACC for another two years. At least not the building itself. The center is due for a major phase two expansion to make it bigger and able to offer more to the community.
  • While the building will be closed, many classes and programs will continue in other buildings and locations. You can view the updated list of when and where by clicking here.
  • The ESB-MACC will be closed for 2023-2024 until the expansion is complete.  

Location: Austin, Texas.

Address: 600 River St, Austin, TX 78701, United States.×300.png

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