Thanks to a grant from the Eden Hall Foudation, the African American Cultural Center just inched $1 million closer to finishing fund-raising on its multi-disciplinary, interactive Downtown venue, which is estimated to cost close to $33 million. The AACC building is scheduled to open in 2007, pending all fund-raising efforts. President Neil Barclay isn't saying how close the AACC is to their goals.
Nor is he concerned that the AACC's chief advocate, City Councilor Sala Udin, did not receive the Democratic re-nomination on May 17.
On council, Udin had made sure the city would provide space for the center, even supporting eminent domain measures -- a method of taking property from its current owner, a move he's fought in the past -- to acquire all the parcels needed to build the center. The District 6 representative lost his bid in the primary to ward chair Tonya Payne, who was unavailable for comment.
"Personally, I look forward to his continued involvement," says Barclay. Besides, "much of the work the city has [or] is doing on the project has been completed or is well underway, so I don't think the change in guard will affect us much."
Udin is a member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board of directors and secretary of the AACC board. He has not announced plans to relinquish either role, and could not be reached for comment.
After the county and the URA acquired properties in the 900 block of Liberty Avenue -- the last holdout, strip club Chez Kimberly, was bought in April -- they received a $4 million grant from the Heinz Endowments on top of February's $2 million pledge from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Slated to hold an interactive museum, 400-seat theater (up from a 300-seat plan just six months ago), classrooms and multipurpose rooms for community organizations, the AACC is supposed to be a national attraction. In February, the National Dance Project, a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, announced that the AACC would be one of its 10 national hub sites. The NDP provides financial resources for contemporary dance programming.
Says Barclay: "We are extremely pleased at how it is going."