South Side Community Art Center Receives $300,000 Grant from Alphawood Foundation

The Capacity Building Grant will support staffing, development, and restoration planning

CHICAGO – February 8, 2016 – The South Side Community Art Center, the oldest African American art center in the country, announced today that it has received a grant totaling $300,000 from the Alphawood Foundation.  The grant is intended to allow the South Side Community Art Center to devote more resources to fundraising and development, increase staff capacity and operating hours, and begin planning for the restoration and preservation of its historic building.  The grant will be received by SSCAC over the next 3 years.

The South Side Community Art Center was founded in 1940 with funding from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Federal Art Project. Today, it is the sole survivor among the 110 community art centers created nationwide by the Works Progress Administration.  In 1994, the building housing the SSCAC was granted Chicago Landmark status.  For 75 years the SSCAC has served the South Side and the City of Chicago, and is the oldest African American art center in the country.  The South Side Community Art Center has partnered with many organizations throughout the city including the School of the Art Institute, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Logan Center for the Arts.  It provides arts programming, training and events that annually touch the lives of over 5,000 Chicagoans, many of whom have no other access to high-quality arts programming and education.

“A frequent challenge for arts institutions—especially culturally specific organizations—is the lack of resources to build capacity they need to fulfill their missions” said Jim McDonough, Alphawood Foundation Executive Director.  “The South Side Community Art Center is one of the most historic and important art centers in Chicago, and in the United States.  With this grant, we hope to make it possible for the Center to develop much needed basic infrastructure to continue and grow its amazing programming.  It is a measure of our confidence in Masequa Myers and her team that they can build on the rich history and solid foundation of the center to continue to tell the stories of the South Side and the City of Chicago for another 75 years.  We are very proud to support the board and staff of SSCAC.”

Maséqua Myers, South Side Community Art Center Executive Director, has more than 25 years of theater, arts administration, media, and communications experience. Myers assumed the leadership of SSCAC in August of 2014, but the native Chicagoan has a deep history with the organization.

“I first took classes at the South Side Community Art Center in 1968 and my excitement about the institution has never waned.  I am committed and excited to do all that I can, working with the board, the staff, and the community, to strengthen this organization.  We are aiming for real sustainability, where the South Side Community Art Center can become a model for a successful, healthy arts organization,” Myers said.



Alphawood Foundation is a Chicago-based grant making private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society. It awards grants to more than 200 organizations annually, primarily in the areas of advocacy, architecture and preservation, arts, domestic violence prevention, the environment, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights.