A person lighting a big marijuana cigarette, or joint. Photo from Pixabay.
A person lighting a big marijuana cigarette, or joint. Cheech And Chong were best known for films that focused on marijuana use, including “Up In Smoke.” But those days have nothing to do with the new Cheech Marin Center in downtown Riverside. Photo from Pixabay.

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art now has $10.7 million in funding for the renovations required to establish the cultural stopover in downtown Riverside, officials said Wednesday.

Under a memorandum of understanding approved Tuesday between the city and the self-governing Riverside Art Museum, the allotment will be released as soon as the renovation project is ready to go.

“Riverside is the `City of Arts and Innovation,’ and the opening of The Cheech later this year will be another reason for visitors from around the world to visit our historic downtown,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “I look forward to seeing our local business community and our Convention Center benefit from this exciting development in a post-COVID-19 world.”

The center will be housed in the old Main Library at Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street. Before upgrades can be made, however, the new 42,329-square-foot library, to be situated at 3911 University Ave., must be completed, and that will happen in the coming months, officials said.

In addition to the $10.7 million, which was received from the state, the city agreed to pay the Riverside Art Museum $800,000 annually in management fees and to cover all utility costs, estimated at $120,000 per year, according to the agreement, which has a 25-year term.

“The Cheech is an investment in the future of our city,” Councilman Tem Jim Perry said. “This unique museum will be an economic driver for Riverside, and I look forward to its opening.”

The center will serve as a long-term repository for Marin’s collection of more than 700 Chicano-related works, which the Riverside Art Museum would curate and potentially release for traveling exhibitions nationwide.

The 74-year-old actor and comedian, who became famous in the 1970s as half of the Cheech & Chong comedy duo, has spent more than 30 years amassing the creative treasure.

According to the city, the goal is for the center to be self-sustaining and not dependent on city allocations before the end of the 25-year term.

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