50 years of Cultivating Creativity
Established in 1971, the Doña Ana Arts Council is a nonprofit 501 c 3 organization created to enhance the quality of life in Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico by ensuring that the performing, visual, and literary arts are integral part of education, economic growth, and community development. By staging memorable events, producing innovative programs, supporting emerging artists, and leading the arts community with effective advocacy, the Arts Council continues to broaden the vision of the arts in the greater Mesilla Valley.
Working with the City of Las Cruces, the Town of Mesilla, Doña Ana County, New Mexico State University, and numerous arts organizations and arts-related businesses, the Arts Council is a focal point for arts activity in the region. With the creation of an Arts & Cultural Center in 2020, in downtown Las Cruces and adjacent to the Arts and Cultural District, the Doña Ana Arts Council is a keystone in the development of the regional creative economy, a destination for art lovers of all types, and home to the Arts Council offices.
The Rio Grande Theatre and the Arts Council
The Rio Grande Theatre, grande dame of Downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico, almost didn’t survive. In 1998, the Doña Ana Arts Council rescued the Rio Grande Theatre from certain destruction, and lovingly restored it into a modern performing arts center. The following article summarizes the unique history of the Theatre, along with the Arts Council’s role in its restoration, grand re-opening, and operation between the years of 1999 and 2017. Rio Grande Theatre Historical Information The Rio Grande Theatre was built in 1926 on the site of the Hacker Hotel. Businessmen C. T Seale and B. G. Dyne built and continued to own the theatre until half was gifted to DAAC by the granddaughters of Mr. Seale (Jan Clute and Carolyn Muggenberg). DAAC acquired the remaining half and some initial demolition (such as removing the façade) began in 1998. It was soon discovered that it would be more than just a “weekend” project and the efforts to raise money for the renovation began. It would eventually take 7 years and $2.2 million (from private donations, federal, state and county money) for the RGT to re-open in September of 2005. • The architect was Otto Thorman who did a number of buildings in El Paso. Original drawings were found at the UTEP library. (We have some enlarged copies of original architectural drawings). Building is done in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. • The exterior of the front was uncovered to reveal the bas-relief violins, branches and trumpets as well as floral