LatinaLista -- San Antonio's Centro Cultural Aztlan has a big mission: "preserve and build upon the long tradition of Chicano/Latino culture by creating programs that would involve local artists and increase public awareness of their work."
It's a mission they've been successfully fulfilling since their founding in 1977. One measure of that success has been that since Centro Cultural Aztlan started they have had to move to successively larger spaces -- four times.
And it's no wonder.
The richness of Latino culture is so varied that it not only fills the organization's latest space but packs their calendar year-long with events, art exhibits, plays and cultural lectures.
A few of the annual activities at the Centro range from an exhibit commemorating the 1848 signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to a mariachi-themed art competition and exhibit to a fiesta and exhibit dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as, appreciating car art through the Lowrider Festival.
In addition, Centro Cultural Aztlan wants to provide encouragement to all artists who identify with the Chicano/Latino community:
Participants in our programs represent the full spectrum of the arts: poets and other writers, performing artists, musicians, as well as visual artists. Some are students; others are emerging professionals. Whether they perform their work on stage or hang it on the wall, we provide them with the means of expression: materials and instruction or display space, an open mike or a festival stage.
In addition to giving a platform to artists, the Centro Cultural Aztlan helps these artists try to make a living with their talents by using the Centro as not only an exhibit gallery but a marketplace where they can sell their creations too.
Centro Cultural Aztlan in their quest to preserve and illustrate the richness of Mexican-American culture also serves as a portal of introduction for many Mexican-Americans, young and old, who are unfamiliar with the history and tradition of their ancestors in the United States.
Through lectures, readings and activities, the Centro strives to educate everyone regarding the past of Mexican-Americans. For example, in the Centro's annual Segundo de Febrero event commemorating the Treaty of Hidalgo, it's learned that :
When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the Mexican-American War, it shifted the borders that turned thousands of Mexicans into the first Mexican-American citizens of the United States and served as the beginning of the Mexican American as a political entity in the United States.