Last Tuesday, February 21st, on the day I visited the new Visual/ Media Arts School and Galeria, considered former director Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso's legacy, it was completely empty.
I believe that the Guadalupe Center is in financial straits today - partly because of this building. According to Mary Jessie Garza, former Arts Education Director, who was fired in January by the now-President, R. Bret Ruiz, the Guadalupe Center paid $400,000 to the Sepulveda family for this building.
This property, which includes a Dollar Store as part of the real estate. sits on Brazos Street one-half block west of the Guadalupe Theatre. It was originally donated to the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC), by HEB. MAUC didn't want it, and sold it to the Sepulveda family for about $40,000. The Sepulveda family sold it to the Guadalupe Center for $400,000.
Another extraordinary cost is the Guadalupe's 4-story Veladora construction - which, according to the 2003 IRS Form 990 that I looked at - cost the Center $432,726.
Recent Board Reports have shown that there is still a $100,000 deficit for the Veladora.
Between the Veladora and the Visual Arts/Media School & Galeria renovations, which were financed in part by a city bond package, the Guadalupe Center has needed to raise $1.2 million dollars since 2001 for these two projects.
I haven't yet determined how much of that has been raised, or how those projects were paid.
Rafael, the volunteer you see in the photo, explained that the Visual/Media Arts School & Galeria (the official name) is always empty, except for some dance classes in the evening. An SBC truck was parked outside the day I visited.
The building to date is not adequately designed for artists. There's no proper venting for oils and chemicals that artists use. The sinks in three of the studios are "executive bar sinks," which are very small. Artists need large oversized sinks with deep tubs for cleaning brushes and washing down screens. This is just a sample of the totally inappropriate design and construction of the building for artistic use.
The lead architect was Humberto Saldana.
The Guadalupe Board of Directors approved all these costs, purchases, and contracts.