San Antonio arts center lands $1 million donation from famed philanthropist

San Antonio arts center lands $1M donation from famed philanthropist

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
The Guadalupe is one of many recipients in the philanthropist's latest round of contributions. Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center/Facebook

After a trying pandemic year that closed its campus for an extended period of time, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has received a generous donation from a well-known billionaire philanthropist that will provide a “transformational” boost to the nonprofit organization.

The Guadalupe announced Tuesday, June 15 that it has been gifted a $1 million contribution from billionaire MacKenzie Scott (who many may know as the former wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) and her husband, Dan Jewett.

“We are extremely grateful to receive this unsolicited and unrestricted award,” says Cristina Ballí, executive director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. “We are humbled by this vote of confidence and know this will be transformational for our organization.”

Founded in 1980, The Guadalupe, which operates a seven-property campus on San Antonio’s historic West Side, works to preserve, promote, and present Latino, Chicano, and Native American art and culture in all arts disciplines, and provides a platform for many locals artists.

As a “vital cultural institution and epicenter of art making in one of the most socioeconomically challenged areas of the city,” the Guadalupe also produces a variety of local festivals and programs, including the Tejano Conjunto Festival, CineFestival, Teatro Chicano, Galeria Guadalupe, Guadalupe Dance Company, and the Guadalupe Traditional Dance and Music Academy.   

Celina Peña, board chair of the Guadalupe, says the monetary gift will help the organization grow operations and programming, as well as update buildings in need of work.

The donation is part of a much larger round of contributions Scott and Jewett recently announced, totaling nearly $3 billion, with recipients ranging from colleges and universities (including San Antonio College, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a variety of other Texas schools), arts and cultural institutions, and cause-focused organizations. 

Last year, Scott also donated more than $4 billion to charities spanning the country, including several in the San Antonio area.

The new contributions, Scott wrote in a blog post, were distributed to “286 high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.”

“Like so many organizations leading and serving people of color, the Guadalupe has worked to overcome adversity to serve its community despite financial constraints,” Ballí says. “This award will stabilize the capacity of the center, ensure that our programming can continue to strengthen and expand, and provide us with the investment needed to reinforce our mission and impact for decades to come.”