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 & Southern New Mexico by ensuring that the Performing, Visual, and Literary Arts are an 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.
In 2014, an ACD Task Force was formed to explore opportunities to create an ACD in Las Cruces. The Task Force was anchored by the Doña Ana Arts Council, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, and the City. In 2015, the Task Force re-formed into a cross-sector, 11-member ACD Coordinating Council and began developing the first “municipally-designated” ACD in New Mexico. The Council researched the designated New Mexico districts, national trends, and outcomes of other districts, and determined that the establishment of a unique cultural identity was paramount.