As mentioned, in the early 1990’s LATEA was again faced with losing its home. The City owned property, formerly leased to Solidaridad Humana, was placed on auction and the building’s tenants began to move out. LATEA Theater decided to stay and fight the fight. In 1993, Ed Vega “Yunque”, Puerto Rican novelist and then Chair of LATEA’s board of directors, had a vision for the building… it was to become a Latino operated institution whose administration was to be as self-sufficient as possible. In 1993 Vega, Nelson Landrieu and Mateo Gomez signed the Articles of Incorporation for the formation of the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center, named after the Puerto Rican poet. Some of LATEA’s members fought to include the term “Educational” in the incorporation to honor Solidaridad Humana and the former public school building’s history. Vega, Gomez and Landrieu’s vision was to have community-based affordable space for local artists and nonprofit organizations. The plan included a profit making movie house for independent filmmakers with a café to be located on the first floor entry-level area. Architectural drawings and a business plan were developed. Vega’s vision was not free of marauders who resisted the idea of a Latino operated institution. A ten-year battle ensued over the building’s administration. The battle lasted over a decade.
Ultimately, reason prevailed. A fine group of reasonable people, artists, elected officials; community members have helped develop an award-winning landmark building whose services and patrons are as diverse as New York City.
The board of “The Clemente”, as the Center is today called, composed mostly by Latinos, is fashioned after its founder’s dreams…creative minds working together for a common good.
Mateo Gomez and Nelson Landrieu were made Ex-officio Board members in perpetuity of the Clemente. The late feisty Ed Vega“Yunque” remains gratefully in the minds of LATEA for his vision of the Center. LATEA is proud of its contributions and the legacy it leaves for new generations. Its philosophy arts as aviable unifying force for human expressions, experiences, dreams, visions, values and aspirations continues.