Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural is a not-for-profit cultural arts center and bookstore. We support and promote the continued growth, development and holistic learning of our community through the many powerful means of the arts. The Centro provides a positive space for people to activate what we all share as human beings: the capacity to create, to imagine and to express ourselves in an effort to improve the quality of life for our community.
ABOUT TIA CHUCHA’S
Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore is a dream of community empowerment. It was first founded in Sylmar CA as an LLC in the summer of 2001 by Chicano author Luis J. Rodriguez, his wife Maria Trinidad Rodriguez, their brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez, and artist Otto “Tito” Sturcke and Maria Flores. Tia Chucha’s doors opened in December of that year with a full coffee bar, bookstore, art gallery, performance space, and arts workshop center.
Tia Chucha’s was named for Luis’s favorite aunt from Mexico, Maria De Jesus Rodriguez – a poet, songwriter, guitarist, singer, and creative spirit who passed on in the 1980s.
Luis as well as singer/musicologist Angelica Loa Perez and Xicano Rap artist Victor Mendoza in 2003 established a nonprofit to incorporate the workshops and create a media center, which received its tax-exempt status in July of 2004. Unfortunately, the landlords unreasonably raised the rent in 2007, forcing a move to Lakeview Terrace. That year, the LLC was disbanded and all its books, equipment, shelving, and more were donated to the nonprofit. Again the organization was hit hard when valuable coffee bar equipment and much more was destroyed and/or stolen in burglaries at the private storage space they were held in. Still Tia Chucha’s moved forward and made another move in early 2008 back to Sylmar, now as a full fledge cultural space and bookstore.
Since then Tia Chucha’s has created two weekly Open Mics, in English and in Spanish; at various times holding workshops in music (guitar, Son Jarocho Mexican tradition, drums, keyboards, East Indian tablas, and more); Mexika (so-called Aztec) dance; classes in writing, theater, puppetry, photography, and others; as well as indigenous cosmology/language workshops and healing arts such as Reiki. They have the only trade bookstore for 500,000 people in the Northeast San Fernando Valley as well as an art gallery, performance space, deli, and clothing/CD/artisan shop. In 2006, Tia Chucha’s began sponsoring the only annual outdoor literacy & arts festival in the Valley called “Celebrating Words: Written, Performed, and Sung” and other well-attended outdoor events. Tia Chucha’s also sponsors a youth empowerment organization, Young Warriors, founded in 2006 by then teenager Mayra Zaragoza.
By 2012, Tia Chucha’s was serving around 18,000 children, teens, young adults, adults, and senior citizens a year.