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hands-on ap­proach to con­nect with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

“We can help you,” María Luisa Gu­tiér­rez, with the

theater com­pany Proyecto Teatro, told Welch in Span­ish dur­ing the meet­ing. “Why don’t we do things cor­rectly? If your meet­ings weren’t with peo­ple like this di­verse com- mu­nity, why not think, ‘Let’s start (with) a clean slate. Let’s con­tact artists, peo­ple who are here and who can help.’ ”

Welch said Mon­day’s event was held at the re­quest of com­mu­nity mem­bers who wanted a meet­ing in Span­ish.

“This com­mu­nity felt like they had a voice and they wanted to be heard, so we re­sponded to that in a way to make sure that we cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity where they could be heard,” Welch said. Be­fore Mon­day’s meet­ing,

the Austin Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment held 11 dis­cus­sion groups and three open houses with Span­ish in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Regis­tra- tion sheets show 27 par­tic- ipants for the Novem­ber and De­cem­ber fo­cus groups. The open houses drew 80 peo­ple in June, 60 peo­ple in Octo- ber and 45 peo­ple ear­lier this month.

Jaime Bea­man, the archi- tect lead­ing the mas­ter plan process, said the Span­ish-lan­guage dis­cus­sion Mon­day was the best at­tended of the fo­cus groups. While the pre­vi­ous ones were at­tended by adults only, the dis­cus­sion Mon­day drew about 45 peo­ple, in­clud­ing more than 20 chil­dren who par­tic­i­pate in the­atri­cal pro­gram­ming at the cen­ter.

“They know what they want,” Bea­man said. “They re­ally need to be in­cluded when it comes to the de­tailed de­sign.” And that night, commu

nity mem­bers made it clear they didn’t want to be an af­ter­thought.

When Te­jano artist Leonard Dav­ila, 69, said he would like to see an au­di­to­rium that could seat thou­sands, par­ents were quick to say they want a cen­ter that is de­signed for com­mu­nity pur­poses, not a venue for events draw­ing thou­sands of tourists.

Ju­lia de los San­tos, 42, was one of those par­ents. Two of her chil­dren, ages 13 and 9, at­tend Proyecto Teatro pro­gram­ming at the cen­ter. “(The cen­ter) is very im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity who uses it, be­cause I feel that this is for them like a busi­ness. They are not giv­ing us the space we need,” she said.

Bea­man said that sen­ti­ment echoes what the city and ar­chi­tects heard at pre­vi­ous fo­cus groups.

“The MACC is an in­cu­ba­tor for the com­mu­nity. While we invite tourists into the MACC, this is not a tourist des­ti­na­tion,” Bea­man said in an in­ter­view. “This is where the com­mu­nity comes to learn and grow their cul­ture.”


Austin parks of­fi­cials are work­ing on plans to ex­pand the Emma S. Bar­ri­en­tos Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Cul­tural Cen­ter. Span­ish-speak­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers Mon­day asked why they had not heard about meet­ings held since last June.

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