Sankofa – This building would make a fantastic African American Arts and Cultural Center. It’s in the center of an area that historically was the only place Black people could legally stay just a few blocks from the Railroad station where porters were employed. It’s within a handful of blocks of half a dozen transitional and low-income homes and it’s right in the heart of the Black controlled drug market in Chinatown.
A center specifically for African Americans here may be a place of healing, cultural and identity restitution. It may work towards repairing the soul damage from slavery.
Menache, who owns it, sent someone to the neighborhood association meeting with a proposal to build ‘creative’ mixed use space, with an addition on the north that would provide the seismic support.
I imagine a performing arts and movie hall there that exclusively shows African American artists. It would fill the void left by the closing of two Jazz halls. It might be a space for spoken word, and contemporary musicians. I imagine a collaboration with local colleges and Universities where open lectures on African History could take place. It may have a formal relationship with PNCA, the art school a few blocks west.
The building itself may house dance, drumming, music, visual art classes. It may be run as a benefits corporation, a non-profit, or a cooperative, a collective where people from the neighborhood could volunteer time in managing it in exchange for classes. The classes might be paid for in a sliding scale, based on income.
Black celebrities may be the patrons who pay for it. They will be enshrined in a hall of fame with their pictures and achievements celebrated throughout the building. Fifty one percent of the controlling members of the cooperative and administration must be of African American decent. It is to primarily serve that community and cultural appreciation may flow with abundance into the greater community, who may be part of its support.