Center for Community Arts


717 Franklin Street
Cape May, NJ 08204
County: Cape May


Mrs. Bernadette J. Matthews

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

To provide programs which help develop character, self-knowledge, and knowledge of other cultures. Programs include Youth Arts Program - Saturday-night YAP, Art at the Library, Summer Art Camps, Great Cookie Exchange and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration; the Intergenerational Arts Program; community history program that preserves and presents Cape May's African American history; WCFA-LP, the community radio station; and as well as the ongoing rehabilitation of the Franklin Street School, community arts center.

Organization Background

In 1995, 12 women responded to racially charged discussions in their community. Meeting around a kitchen table over a six-month period, they decided to act. Drawing on their talents, interests and concerns as artists, community organizers, parents and grandparents, they envisioned the Center for Community Arts. The mission they crafted in those discussions still guides the organization today: to foster creativity, community building and celebrate our world's diversity through arts and humanities programs that reach out to underserved populations--youth, elders and those on low, moderate and fixed income.

By late 1995, the group had preserved the Franklin Street School and laid the groundwork for its Community History Program. In December, it presented its first community building event, The Great Cookie Exchange (now in its 18th year) and in January it opened the doors to its Saturday-Night YAP (Youth Arts Program).

By 2006, the Youth Arts Program had expanded its reach from Cape May to include Sea Isle City, Woodbine, Wildwood and Lower Township; an intergenerational arts program was added; and CCA went on the air with an FCC-licensed low power community radio. Today, CCA has added storytelling and poetry reading with the Winter Shore Slam, has expanded the Summer Arts Camp, and has become an ever-more active and integral part of the Cape May County community.

CCA continues to fulfill its mission under the executive leadership of Bernadette Matthews. Bernadette has seventeen years of experience as an information technology expert with the IBM Corporation. She is a former Director of the Cape May Jazz Festival. The other full-time paid staff is Program Assistant, Yvonne Wright-Gary, who has been with the organization since 2002, having first been a parent volunteer with the Youth Arts Program.

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