Move the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum Forward

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The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum, affectionately nicknamed "The Cheech," is a public-private partnership between the City of Riverside, Cheech Marin, and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) to rehabilitate the soon-to-be-vacant main City library in downtown Riverside and turn it into a world-class Chicano art museum. Cheech Marin is donating his preeminent Chicano art collection to RAM, who will partner with Cheech and the City to operate The Cheech.

Approximately $14.5 million dollars of private and State money has been raised to date by the parties to rehabilitate and renovate the former library building and then turn it into The Cheech. The majority of the funds will be spent on basic repairs to the building. However, no City funds will be used for the rehabilitation and renovation of the building. Pursuant to a management agreement negotiated between City and RAM representatives that has not yet been considered by the City Council, the City will provide a management fee to RAM to operate The Cheech for up to 25 years. This structure was laid out in a Memorandum of Understanding approved by the City, Cheech, and RAM almost 3.5 years ago in May 2017 and reconfirmed in a second MOU in Fall 2018 and a third MOU in Summer 2020. The management fee will not be due to RAM until the end of 2021 when The Cheech is scheduled to open.

Specifically, we urge the Riverside City Council to move forward with the recommendation from the City Staff to “approve the Management Agreement for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture with the Riverside Art Museum for an initial term of 25 years with an automatic renewal of two additional five-year terms.” 

This center is a cost-effective renovation of a historic Riverside, City-owned building, using no City funds for the renovation. This project will turn this building into a dynamic cultural center that will be a draw for people across the state. A recent economic impact study by Dr. John Husing predicts an annual economic benefit to the city of $23 million and at least $850,000 in direct tax revenue to the City each year.

We urge the City Council to not delay approval of this agreement so that the project remains on schedule, the construction renovation bid award can be given to start the renovation project this winter, and The Cheech can open on schedule in the fall of 2021. 



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