SCAC receives boost

Published 5:58 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham awarded the Shelby County Arts Council a $20,000 grant towards the salaries for an executive director and bookkeeper for the non-profit, county-wide arts and cultural organization.

James McCrary, the foundation’s senior program officer, and consultant Patti Whitt presented the check at the SCAC Board Meeting on July 9.

The meeting was hosted by Jefferson State Community College President Judy Merritt and was held at the Bistro, the student-run restaurant at the college’s Culinary Institute.

The Community Foundation was established in 1959 as a public charity and is the largest and oldest community foundation in Alabama. It awards grants to benefit non-profits primarily in Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount and Walker counties.

“Receiving funds from the foundation is a seal of approval of the merits of a non-profit,“ McCrary said. “The Community Foundation has given $110,000 to the SCAC since 2006.”

The SCAC used a Region 2020 study as a means for identifying needs for the arts in Shelby County.

The study was a roadmap developed in 1997 to locate ways to improve the quality of life in a 12-county region in Central Alabama.

“The SCAC has done everything right,“ Whitt said. “Since the beginning, the SCAC had a strategic, well-defined plan for growth.”

Whitt also noted the SCAC has been well organized and guided from the start with an active Board, and the outreach has been county-wide to Shelby County’s youth, senior citizens, and schools.

The SCAC diverse projects and fast growth has shown the need for a permanent executive director.

Among the many SCAC projects in Shelby County are: three summer youth theater camps; art therapy classes and summer art therapy camp for special needs children; schools’ musical workshops; art and photography program at the SC Juvenile Detention Center; school poetry and reading workshops; school workshops with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra; painting and photography classes at senior centers; painting, ceramic, and music classes and art shows at the SCAC Center; and a field trip for 1,700 Shelby County students to attend a performance of the ASO.

The ultimate dream and goal of the SCAC is to build an arts center in Columbiana on 1.2 acres of land, donated by the city. SCAC President Terri Sullivan spoke of why Columbiana is the perfect location and has been chosen as the hub for the SCAC.

“Columbiana is the county seat of Shelby County, is safe and centrally located, and has great accessibility with no traffic problems,” Sullivan said. “Many roads lead to Columbiana, and the town is less than 10 miles from Alabaster, Calera, Chelsea, Pelham, and Wilsonville.”

One of the desires of the facility is to have a 450–seat black box theater that can bring performances such as the Red Mountain Theater, ASO, Alabama Ballet and Shakespeare Festival to new audiences.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e–mail at