Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) and Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) joined supporters and leadership of the Garcia Center for the Arts on Saturday, July 10 at the Center in San Bernardino for a “check” presentation of $1 million, symbolic of 2021-22 state budget funding that Ramos helped secure for the cultural and community hub.
“Getting monies in the state budget was a collaborative effort in Sacramento that resulted in a big win for San Bernardino,” Ramos said. “Assemblymember Eloise Reyes and I teamed up on this state budget request to make sure we could further the work of this important city and regional treasure.”
The funding will be used to build a community garden that will help improve air quality, offer a source of fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants, a Zen garden, and expand art programs in creative fields such as photography, glass blowing, and theater.
“The Garcia Center for the Arts is an established community presence and the only art center in the City of San Bernardino, making it a hub of youth and community engagement,” said Majority Leader Eloise Reyes. “This state budget funding will assist the center in expanding to provide even greater opportunities for the community’s artistic expression and celebration of local culture.”
The proposed garden will sit on an acre of land and offer city residents much-needed green space. It currently offers exhibits, and classes in creative arts such as printmaking and film; the funding will allow the Center to add a dark room and add other art instruction for glass blowing and poetry. Jorge Oswald Heredia, executive director of the Center said he hopes most of the expansion will be completed by June 2022. The funding will enable the Garcia Center to:
- Build the community garden and urban farm (purchasing seeds and tools, building raised beds, planting trees and plants, installing an irrigation system),
- Build a greenhouse with patio, storage, and restroom facilities,
- Establish the glass blowing facility, including purchasing of equipment,
- Upgrade the stage and sound system,
- Build an appropriate community kitchen,
- Upgrade the air conditioning and heating system,
- Provide upgraded classrooms and equipment for ceramics, printmaking, press, dark room and filming,
- Install solar panels, and
- Modernize the art exhibit gallery.
Heredia said, “We are so excited for all the renovations and projects this state funding will bring to the San Bernardino community and to the Garcia Center for the Arts. Less than a decade ago, the Garcia Center was an abandoned building facing the possibility of being demolished. With the help of many amazingly talented and kind volunteers, the historical building’s restoration began. Now, this significant funding will continue to build on those efforts. We want to thank Assemblymembers James C. Ramos and Eloise Gómez Reyes and their invaluable staff for supporting and advocating for arts and culture investments in San Bernardino!”
Fay Aldridge, a leader in developing the community garden and a dedicated volunteer at the Center described the plans for the garden as a “sea change.” She added, “When I heard that the Garcia Center was considering gardening as an art form I was jumping up and down to be a part of this vision because it was/is a part of my beliefs also. Through this forward-thinking vision, we have an opportunity to change lives in the very best way possible by teaching and empowering a community and eventually a city (San Bernardino).”