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Actor Cheech Marin just got a big “W” for the Latino Community. He just received a $9.7 million grant for his museum of Chicano Art he is opening in Riverside. Despite initial backlash on Twitter, the partnership between the Marin’s, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry and the Riverside Art Museum has captured the attention of supporters and non-supporters alike. Last month, after the announcement that the state would be funding the center that would house the actor’s collection, Bill Essayli, a Republican candidate for California’s 60th Assembly District, called it “stoner art museum.”
The lobbying for the grant was led by Riverside Assemblyman Jose Medina. Medina secured funding from the state legislature. The total grant includes the $3 million that was already raised by Marin and the RAM. The arts center will house Marin’s personal collection, which is claimed to be the largest known private collection focused on Chicano art.
The funding will go towards the repurposing of a 60,000 square-foot building, that is currently serving as a library. The future museum has been nicknamed “The Cheech” of course given by Marin himself. Not only will the center be the new home for the actor-comedian’s collection of Chicano Art, it will also be used as an exhibition space and serve as a research center and educational facility for the field.
Marin expressed his excitement for the future of the facility and said, “Early in my collecting days, when I started talking to museums, they would always, immediately, classify us as Latin American art.” In the past he has made it a personal point of his to distinguish the two, he goes on “We are not Latin American art. We are American art. This is a part of America. It’s one of the main threads of our cultural fabric. Now it’s being recognized. And it will be more recognized.”
“The Cheech” plans to open in Riverside in 202. Private fundraising efforts for the effort for continuing, RAM will be hosting a “Celebrant Chicano Art” gala at the Riverside Convention Center on Thursday, September 6. Marin shares his hope for the center, “My goal going forward is to expand the definition of Chicano Art, because we want more people, and more inclusiveness in this movement.”