Purpose: To create a space that activates our community through empowerment, agency/self-determination, accessibility and cultural visibility
The history of downtown Albuquerque is inextricably intertwined with the history of Native Americans and colonization. From the curio shops and Kimo Theater to traditional artist vendors at the Alvarado Hotel, Native Americans have contributed to the growth and well being of our vibrant urban center yet we have not had a space to call our own. Our expansion project is a catalyst to the revitalization of downtown to showcase Indigenous arts, culture and entrepreneurial networking events and programs.
In March 2023, demolition began next to NMCC’s offices on the first floor of the Occidental Life Building, increasing our footprint to a total of 8,000 square feet. The new addition of 4,000 square feet will include three distinct spaces: a high-tech Gathering Hall, a Wellness Sanctuary and Native Seed Library. The goal for construction completion is February 2024.
NMCC envisions this new space as an Indigenous “community nest” in the center of downtown Albuquerque. The Gathering Hall will not only increase economic opportunity for more Native entrepreneurs through invigorated local food systems and trade routes, it will also beautify and help revitalize downtown Albuquerque. We plan to expand our classes and programs that are taught using supportive mentorship, peer learning, and culturally relevant curriculum. We will also grow our downtown marketplace showcasing Indigenous arts and culture through pop-up shops, fashion, storytelling and an intergenerational center that highlights Indigenous culinary innovation and food trucks.
In tandem with the interior expansion/remodeling project, we are also developing a double width marketplace sidewalk to enhance the civic engagement impact of the 67’ long Gathering Hall storefront. Three central bays of sliding glass doors will open directly onto the new sidewalk for hosting vibrant public events. The City of Albuquerque—in collaboration with the Complete Streets Initiative—has recently re-striped this section of 3rd Street in support of this pedestrian-friendly, downtown-revitalizing infrastructure enhancement. NMCC has demonstrated economic stimulation, robust civic engagement, and increased pedestrian impact for downtown with their successful IndigiExchange events during ABQ Artwalk First Fridays. This public amenity and highly visible economic activation will positively impact the anemic Downtown Arts and Cultural District, and will serve as a case study for how private sector developers can dramatically improve the pedestrian landscape of our urban core. This amenity will be developed at no cost to NMCC, as another form of support.
Our co-tenants, Electric Playhouse and RS21, are fast growing companies and we’ll have their support to help with our visual and technology needs. We envision this venue as a resource for other organizations and businesses to rent out for events and fundraisers to amplify their work. We are motivated to see the positive growth and impact the downtown community can hold by collaborating together. We envision this space as a cultural hub of diverse leaders and entrepreneurs creating both belonging and a thriving First Friday marketplace and networking space for the community. The year before last we started hosting First Friday markets and invited over 20 different Indigenous vendors to come and sell their art and products each month. We’ve hosted many successful gatherings since last summer and helped create more opportunities for Indigenous makers and Native farmers to reach a greater audience.