The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center was founded by a group of Chicano/a artists determined to play a critical role in shaping the artistic and cultural experiences of San Antonio’s residents and visitors alike. Nearly thirty-six years ago this band of artists formed a pro-active group called the Performance Artists’ Nucleus (PAN). They represented different organizations that were seeking municipal funds to support their work and to preserve and promote the rich traditions of Chicano, Latino and Native American culture.
PAN’s tireless efforts were an effective force to widen the lens for the general public who began to understand that cultural traditions were disappearing and to realize that vital decisions were being made for Mexican-American and Latino communities without their input. PAN’s activism was its strength.
The original artists’ commitment to preserve and promote Chicano culture by securing municipal funding marked the beginning of the GCAC as it operates today: a multidisciplinary cultural arts center with programming across six artistic disciplines. The GCAC was one of the first Chicano organizations to collaborate with Mexican artists and cultural institutions, commission and present new works and to pioneer in community cultural education.
Since its inception, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has either introduced, showcased or fostered the talents of almost every major Chicano/Latino visual artist, filmmaker, playwright, actor, writer, folkloric dancer/choreographer, or musician in the United States today. The GCAC, unique among Latino organizations for its scope of interests, its arts education classes, and its encompassing humanities and arts programming, was unrivalled in the U.S. Today, inspired by the GCAC, other community-based Latino arts organizations have taken root across the nation. However, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center remains a national model, still unequalled in Texas and the Southwest.