Center for Community Arts
717 Franklin Street
Cape May, NJ 08204
County: Cape May
ContactMr. David Mackenzie
To strengthen programming and capacity building for this South New Jersey community based arts organization.
CCA was founded in 1995 by 12 women, six white and six African American, artists, educators and community leaders. The original mission of the group was to establish a community arts initiative that, through arts programs for youth, would address some of the racial tensions that existed in Cape May at that time. As the founders worked on developing programs, the need for a community arts center became apparent, as did a candidate - - the then unused Franklin Street School, which had been built in 1927 as a segregated elementary school. The consideration of using the School naturally led to questions about the School, itself, and of the students who attended (one of whom was one of CCA's Founding Mothers). CCA began to interview former students, an activity that led to the generation of 60 taped oral interviews, which covered the School as well as life in Cape May's African American community. The interview project, in turn, lead to the decision to restore the School building for use as a community arts center. From those early days, CCA has expanded to providing two levels of youth arts programming (6 -- 9 year olds; 10 -- 14 year olds) in Cape May, Lower Township and Wildwood Crest; youth Summer Camps and library-based arts programs; adult arts programs; several annual arts-based events; and WCFA 101.5 FM, a community radio station. Taken together, these activities are all mission driven - - to serve underserved populations and to preserve Cape May's African American history.
CCA's Board includes a Founding Mother (emeritus member), one of the early year members and officers, a retired human resources executive, a retired teacher and non-profit executive and CCA's Executive Director,who has been active in CCA since 1997 (including two years as Chair); until becoming Executive Director, he was a municipal finance and management consultant. Yvonne Wright-Gary, Program Assistant, was been involved in CCA since 2000, as both a Board member and employee. She, along with an office volunteer, oversees all youth arts programs, including teacher management.