WIVB-Hispanic Heritage Council appoints chairperson to help fundraise for a new cultural institute on the city’s westside

By HHCI on February 21, 2020 in News, Sponsorship

By: Sarah Minkewicz

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – The Western New York Hispanic Heritage Council is getting closer to its $10 million goal to create a new cultural institute on the city’s westside.

Manny Lezama is now the chairperson for this project. He says because he’s a Mexican- American it’s near and dear to his heart and he wants to make sure this project receives the funding it needs.

“This is our city and we need to be proud of it,” Lezama said. “The Hispanic population is definitely going to embrace this.”

Plans are in the works to turn an empty lot on the corner of Hudson and Niagara Streets into Buffalo’s first ever Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute.

“Exciting, but it’s a lot to do,” Lezama said. “There is a big task in front of us we are in a city of Buffalo where everyone is will to help each other.”

The Institute’s mission is to celebrate Hispanic arts, culture and heritage while contributing to the growth of the city.

“This will be a big upgrade to the Niagara street corridor, a lot had been done is the last several years to enhance the Niagara street corridor from city hall to porter ave and this is just an addition and it’s a proud addition,” Hispanic Council President Casimiro Rodriguez said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to embrace diversity and inclusion and open it to multiple groups of the community and the westside especially,” Lezama said.

National Grid donated $250,000 towards the institute. The Hispanic Heritage Council is hoping to break ground on the project by this time next year.

Watch the interview on the WIVB website.

WBFO-Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute receives $250,000 grant from National Grid

By HHCI on February 21, 2020 in News, Sponsorship

FEB 11, 2020

Donations are coming in for the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York’s proposed cultural institute on Buffalo’s West Side.

The council, on Tuesday, announced a $250,000 economic development grant from National Grid to help cover engineering and design costs for the $10 million project.

“The new Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute (HHCI) will enrich the community as a hub for arts, culture, research, education and wellness, all rooted in Hispanic culture,” said National Grid regional director Ken Kujawa, in a statement.

“As part of a busy commercial corridor on Buffalo’s West Side, the facility will be the first of its kind in upstate New York. National Grid is proud to be part of this transformative project in Buffalo’s Hispanic Heritage District.”

The council plans to build the three-story institute at the corner of Niagara and Hudson streets. The 33,000 square-foot building will host educational programs, events, and cultural activities. It will include a museum, theater, media center and more.

Dinorah Santos of the council’s capital campaign committee said the vision for the institute is to provide a central location and programming for the entire Buffalo community to learn about and celebrate Hispanic heritage.

“We want our community to celebrate this rich Hispanic culture, especially with just how divided we are right now. I think this is the perfect time for an institute like this,” Santos said.

The building, designed by Stieglitz Snyder Architecture, will feature solar panels as part of its energy-efficient design.

The council has also announced restauranteur and hotelier Manny Lezama, formerly of Rich Products, as chairperson of the capital campaign. Lezama was born in Mexico City and is the former general manager of restaurant operations at Rich Products.

“We have to invest money in our youth. We have to invest money in continuing our culture [and] our heritage, things that have survived in our relatives and family members,” Lezama said.

Lezama said he is confident the campaign will reach its goal and that the cultural institute won’t just benefit Western New Yorkers of Hispanic heritage.

“Every penny counts and every member of the City of Buffalo counts,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is the living room of our home and everybody is welcome.”