El Centro Cultural de México

Mexican arts and culture

El Centro Cultural de México is an all-volunteer driven organization focusing on transnational projects that link residents to communities all over Mexico through the arts, culture, and social justice.  Through educational programming, which includes workshops in dance, music, art, and literacy, it promotes understanding and appreciation of the contributions of the many active cultures in Orange County by sharing knowledge of Mexico’s rich cultural, and educational, and social legacy.

In 2015, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program will support a partnership between El Centro and Banda de Viento de Santa Catarina Yahuio, an ensemble that that performs traditional wind music from Oaxaca, Mexico.  The band will hold a series of workshops in anticipation of El Centro’s annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, where this traditional music tradition will be highlighted.  A series of recordings will also be made, enabling the preservation and promotion of this music among the Oaxacan immigrant community in Santa Ana.

In 2014, El Centro received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support workshops for the center’s annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.  Three series of workshops will focus on the use of cempazúchitl (marigolds), textiles, and food in the creation of Día de los Muertos altars.

In 2012, ACTA’s Development Program supported a consultancy between El Centro and filmmakers César Gallo and José Luis Gallo of La Causa Films, to produce a documentary video about their Bambaso-Fandango III, an annual event which combines the music, dance, and songs of Puerto Rican bomba and son jarocho of Veracruz, Mexico, in a two-day festival of workshops and performances.

In 2012, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program supported El Centro’s Noches de Altares in the Community project, which provided opportunities for community members to create Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars with culture-bearers, thereby gaining in-depth understanding of the cultural values and historic context of the traditions.  The process was documented as short digital stories and was presented on November 2, 2012, along with the altars.

In 2011, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program supported a week-long session of son jarocho workshops, bringing together people in Los Angeles, San Fernando, Santa Ana, the Bay Area, and San Diego.  Under the direction of master musician Cesar Castro and the ensemble Los Utrera, one of Veracruz’s most renowned groups, the workshops concentrated on the art of improvisation.  The concept of this gathering is similar to one that is held annually on the other side of the border.  The southern California location provided a way for families who cannot afford to travel to Mexico for a week the ability to have an intensive workshop and community experience.  Forging stronger relationships and a tighter-knit cultural community allowed for the community of son jarocho musicians to grow and prosper throughout the state.

In 2009, El Centro Cultural de México received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support an exhibit of son jarocho instruments featuring the work of culture-bearer and master musician Cesar Castro and in celebration a seven-year relationship between the Chicano/a dancers and community workers in California with a group of traditional son jarocho musicians from Veracruz, Mexico.  This bi-national group has worked over time to collaborate on numerous traditional arts projects.  The exhibit and fandango opening brought together novices, long-time students, and other community residents for an evening of dance, music, verse, and community participation.