The building that houses the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC) has been a staple of the Shaw neighborhood for over 100 years, and director Sylvia Robinson recently launched a year-long fund-raising campaign to ensure it stays that way.
"It's home to a lot of folks," Robinson says. "We want to make sure we have a space for the next hundred years."
The campaign, which kicked off on Labor Day, aims to raise about $350,000 to repair and update a series of exterior issues. Updates include installing security cameras for the parking lot and constructing a new facade to cover the crumbling retaining wall of the community center.
On September 28th, ECAC will partner with Art All Night, an overnight arts festival in the District. Artists scheduled to perform at the Warehouse Theater will donate their pay to the community center. They are also planning a bowling night on October 11th at the Blackburn Center and a gala in March to honor exemplary women in the community.
As it stands, the building is a hub for community development. It plays host to dance classes, meetings and various performances for the neighborhood. ECAC's current function doesn't stray far from the building's initial purpose as a haven for members of the community.
"It had been owned by an organization that had been formed in 1863 to take women and children off of the street after the Civil War," Robinson says.
Turning the building into a community center is a great way for the people in this neighborhood to stay connected to its history, she says.
— Danielle Cralle