This week, SFR sat down with El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe Executive Director María Martínez and Board Chairman Fernando Casados. Casados is a recent addition to El Museo as part of the nonprofit’s new executive board, and we asked Martínez and Casados to weigh in on what’s going on at El Museo and what some of the new board’s plans are going forward.

SFR: Tell me a little about what you do here. Every few months, I’ll call over and ask, ‘Can you tell me about this event?’ and it’s always something completely different.

MM: I would anticipate, if I might be bold, that El Museo is [a] metaphor for possibility, referencing the local, generational Native culture. Now, in the purpose statement, mission statement so-called, there is reference to the sharing, preserving, manifestation and education of the local Hispanic culture…We do this via the arts, education, outreach; we do them in-house; we do them with community…So essentially, I think that’s what El Museo is: a metaphor of possibility within that context of the preservation, education, sharing of the local culture.

You recently applied for capital outlay money through the state Legislature, correct? What are some of the other means you use to bring in funds?

MM: The main funding that we have received in past is a dime a day…$36.50 a year, which was the membership from way back…grants, small grants, and Legislature…private donations, anything…We have gotten the main funding, to my understanding, has been from Legislature.

FC: That only covers the structure itself, nothing beyond that—in other words, if we need to fix the door—because it is a city-owned building. We can’t pay the rent with it. We can’t pay utilities with it.

You mentioned in your history of El Museo that the city is changing around it. How do you see El Museo changing, and how do you see El Museo fitting into the Santa Fe art culture?

MM: One of the things that we are doing…now, in this newness, is it has become more active in regards to what you just cited. For example, we are creating a tiendita, which is specific to one-of-a-kind, high-caliber art by artists—young and more veteran, established artists. That is, in part, by referencing one of our board members, Mr. Nicholas Herrera from Abiquiu. And we will have this tiendita. It will be one-of-a-kind. We’re cleaning out one of the rooms; it will be permanent and a place where people can come, and the artist is able to express him or herself without someone such as tourism or the financial aspect dictating upon him or her, ‘Well, why don’t you make this or that?’ The artist comes. They don’t have to deal with the public unless they want to. There will be workshops. And this has happened before, but this will be an ongoing thing as part of the identity of El Museo.

FC: It’ll be like a galleria tienda.

MM: We are also creating a biblioteca, a library, which will be a reference library, which we have the books, and we will be getting more books. Some of them are coming from Galisteo…some of them from here, some from a lady [Off the Map author] Chellis Glendenning.

FC: Possibly an east side entrance. This is the side of the building that faces the farmers market. If you’re on that side, it really just looks like a warehouse; you don’t know what it is. So hopefully, we can get a really nice entrance announcing that this is El Museo that faces all the traffic that happens over there.

MM: We’d like it to be as accommodating as possible without losing its core identity. We’ve even—because we’re allowed a few things—thought about having some marquees that are part of what is allowed on the Railyard, that has perhaps a mural done by youth, that is there and lit up and says ‘El Museo’ so that people know that it’s there and they can come in—to announce it a bit less quietly than maybe local culture is accustomed to.