After what many supporters said was a long time coming, Downtown Phoenix officially welcomed the Latino Cultural Center Friday, December 4, with hundreds of supporters in attendance.

Guests were greeted at the new Cultural Center, located at 147 E. Adams St. (light rail station at Central/Washington), with a mariachi band serenading them outside the main doors. The center was adorned with the work of local Hispanic artists, from newcomers in the Phoenix arts scene to seasoned, well-known artists.

Mayor Phil Gordon was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski, District 8 Councilman Michael Johnson and Phoenix Deputy City Manager Ruth Osuna, who, according to the mayor, has played an integral part in the center’s opening.

Nowakowski, a lifelong resident of Phoenix, said he is proud of those who assisted in the opening of the center and loves the location already.

“This is truly a miracle. This is where we’re supposed to share our culture with everyone,” Nowakowski said.

Supporters of the center say the modest location is temporary, and believe with more support and contributions from the community it will move to a bigger location.

“We are campaigning for a larger facility; this is not the end,” said Ruben Hernandez, a spokesman for the arts coalition that created the center.

Hernandez said he spoke of the cultural center’s impending existence over five years ago, but it was not until a little over two years ago that tangible plans began to come together.

Hernandez said they received help and encouragement from the city of Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum and many others in the non-Latino community.

“They all stepped up to offer support,” Hernandez said.

The center was filled to the brim on Friday with supporters from all across the Valley and from many different communities.

“This should have been done 25 years ago,” local artist Luis Mana said.

Mana has been creating art in the Valley for over 30 years, and believes the Cultural Center will be a wonderful place for young, up-and-coming Hispanic artists to showcase their work.

The Cultural Center, which was created by the Advocates for Latin@ Art & Culture Consortium, will feature art, dance, theatre and music, and will be open and welcome to all, said ErLinda Tórres, President of the ALAC Board of Directors.

For more information on ALAC and the Latino Cultural Center, call 602.254.9817.