LibroMobile Arts Cooperative (LMAC) is a small sized, hybrid nonprofit organization established in 2016 by local author Sarah Rafael García in Santa Ana, California. It was initiated through support from its fiscal agent Red Salmon Arts, a partner hybrid nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas, and a five thousand dollar Investing in the Arts Grant by the City of Santa Ana. Although started with a minimal amount of funding, the hybrid nonprofit organization serves as the only literary arts cultural center for approximately 300K+ residents in the City of Santa Ana of which 80% are Latina/o/x as part of Orange County that is 60% people of color.
Over the first two years, LMAC tended the community as a curbside vendor selling books and hosting free literary readings and workshops via partnerships with established art spaces, local businesses, national literary grants to pay writers, and special public events. Since 2017, it has been housed at three different brick-and-mortar venues: the first being a public stairway that served as a temporary space for 11 months funded by a patron, the second a 190sqft warehouse in downtown Santa Ana that consisted of annual lease renewals from January 2018 through December 2021 paid by profits. During the stay home mandate, LMAC acquired a second fiscal agent, MA Series Arts, to be able to apply to state-funded grants for sustainability. Since COVID19 reopening in June 2021, downtown Santa Ana has seen an exponential increase in commercial festivals and business initiatives, which alienated the bookstore and led to a decrease of accessibility to the locals and book sales. After relentless advocacy, Garcia was forced to seek an alternative space in order for LMAC to maintain a presence in the community and pay book advisors who continue to consist of local youth and artists-of-color. As of January 2022, LMAC moved to its third location, a storefront next to one of the last standing indoor swapmeets. LMAC continues to be mobile while sustaining general operating costs at the new venue established as a bookstore gallery. One organizational goal is to reinvest profits into the local artists-of-color and business economy. Over the years LMAC has fulfilled García’s mission of “cultivating diversity through literature and the arts” to the residents of Santa Ana and Orange County. Today (2022), LMAC is focusing more than ever on audience engagement, placemaking, and book sales to increase assets, while seeking to expand its reach beyond the city as an established BIPOC-led museum and cultural center in Orange County and institute a new mission statement. For a documented timeline of LMAC history, view our virtual timeline here!
LibroMobile Arts Cooperative (LMAC) intends to empower artists of color and culturally enrich residents in Orange County, California. Through social engagement, diverse arts, equitable practices, and direct action, LMAC aspires to counter the impact of gentrification on the local community by providing culturally relevant arts education and reinvesting profits in the local residents, arts industry, and business economy. Established in 2016 in Santa Ana, LMAC is a community-based collaboration between a mobile bookstore and cultural center practices. It builds on anti-gentrification movement culture and cultivates diversity through literature and the arts by prioritizing Black, Indigenous, people of color and integrating free reading and writing programs, visual exhibits, and year-round creative workshops in Santa Ana, California and its surrounding areas.
For over seven years and as the only cooperatively-run bookstore in Santa Ana, LMAC has been able to realize its vision for a community-based self-sustaining literary arts center gracias to the dedication of the bookstore community. Recognized across the U.S. for organizing and presenting literary arts programing prioritizing BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, LMAC holds some 30 to 45 events per year, many of which draw intersectional and multigenerational audiences from Southern California and virtually across the nation.
As of 2018, bookstore profits, public donations, and capital from grants support the hybrid nonprofit organization fulfill its mission by funding its operating budget, local and guest artists, special exhibitions, establish the Crear Studio gallery, and a variety of arts education programs. In 2020, LMAC established a community-based advisory board that ensures the mission statement is met through all efforts. Arts cooperative members lead daily tasks and initiatives to keep the bookstore and free programming accessible and sustainable to the general public. Muchas gracias to the local comunidad, advisory board, cooperative members, community partners, and book patrons across the nation for their empowerment and commitment to LMAC.