The center is set to feature visual art galleries, a music performance hall, a dance theater, and more.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Southeast Los Angeles County artists are celebrating the possibilities for present and future generations.
"We grew up needing art and cultural spaces," said Danaly Leon, executive director of the Latinas Art Foundation.
On Thursday, elected officials announced an additional $8 million to help fund the SELA Cultural Center, handing checks to Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and other partners of the project. The center would be situated along the lower Los Angeles River in South Gate.
"We formed a community group they met for about three years," said Anthony Rendon, California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus (D-Lakewood.) "They talked about what they wanted the river to look like. One of the first things they identified was this."
Leon said her family made sacrifices so she could have access to the arts.
"We chose to have our family meals consisting of simple grains and helping our parents out at the swap meet on weekends so we could afford extracurricular activities," said Leon.
The Latinas Art Foundation teaches the youngest SELA residents dance and other art forms.
"We hope that our involvement in the center stays close to it. That way we can advocate for our community; advocate for the people who are here, making sure that it continues to be a representation of those who live here," said Leon.
The center, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is set to feature visual art galleries, a music performance hall, a dance theater, and more.
"I feel like it's going to be one of the best things that would happen to this community, especially since it's been, I could say deprived," David Hernandez, an artist and filmmaker.
"Communities that have access to the arts have better outcomes in everything, from educational attainment to public health to public safety," said Kristin Sakoda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.
"It's a lot more important than what society thinks it is," stressed Hector "Tetris" Arias, a local muralist who founded the SELA Art Center.
Rendon began advocacy for the project alongside Gehry in 2017.
"It will provide unprecedented workforce opportunities to our community to support local restaurants, small businesses, and much, much more," said Rendon.
Rendon's office said they still need to raise roughly $50 million for the $170 million project.
They hope to begin construction in the next three years and are accepting applications for the project advisory panel.