News and Events

  • Building A Future Without Barriers

    • 10 June 2024
    • Posted By Ellen Muse-Lindeman

    When I first stepped into this role 16 years ago, I could never have imagined the incredible journey that awaited us. At that time, I was the sole full-time staff member of this fledgling organization with an old house and a big vision.

    Fast forward to today, and I am thrilled to share how far we have come: 17 dedicated staff members, two beautifully renovated buildings, a wide range of innovative programming, and a thriving creative community.

    Reflecting on the past two decades, there are countless milestones that stand out:

    • Saving the Kennedy Mansion: Our grassroots effort to save an historic building from demolition and establish an arts center for everyone.
    • Developing the Cultural Campus: A 5+ year, $2.5 million community-driven initiative to transform a long-vacant grocery store into a vibrant cultural campus, revitalizing our neighborhood.
    • Reclaiming Public Spaces: After two homicides in our local park, partnering with residents to create Play in the Park, a beloved summer tradition (now in its 11th year) offering free arts events. This initiative reclaimed the park and dramatically reduced crime in the area.
    • Engaging and Connecting Community Residents: Numerous projects with artists-in-residence have connected diverse neighbors through public art, dance, choral music, poetry, creative writing, community-devised theatre, filmmaking, and more.
    • Expanding Opportunities for Youth: Partnerships with public schools and libraries, the jazz academy, teen programs, summer camps, and classes have nurtured and empowered thousands of young people through creativity.


    Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we never stopped delivering on our mission. We provided free creativity kits to thousands of school kids, partnered with artists to create joyful neighborhood installations and an outdoor art gallery, delivered handmade care packages to seniors in nursing homes, and produced pop-up arts experiences on city streets that residents could enjoy safely from their homes.

    What makes a community truly thrive? It’s not just about economic development; it’s about creating a space where everyone feels valued and welcome. Many people refer to Kennedy Heights Arts Center as a “home,” a place where they are seen and heard. This quality of belonging and community is what makes our Arts Center so special.

    Our unwavering commitment to inclusion remains at the heart of Kennedy Heights Arts Center. Since its inception, we have been dedicated to breaking down barriers to arts participation. I am proud that 100 percent of our programs are accessible to everyone—free or by sliding scale—ensuring that the enriching experience of the arts remains within reach of all individuals, regardless of financial means.

    On the occasion of our 20th Anniversary, I am thrilled to share Beyond 20: Arts Without Barriers, an initiative to sustain our founding promise of inclusion and accessibility for generations to come. We invite you to join us in embarking on this new chapter, reaffirming our dedication that the arts are truly for everyone.

    Beyond 20 isn’t just about sustaining the status quo; it’s about propelling KHAC into an even brighter future. Our goal is to establish a $2 million Endowment to ensure that our programming remains open to all, regardless of ability to pay, always.

    We recognize that true accessibility goes beyond mere physical presence. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to express themselves. Alongside the endowment goal, we are establishing an Inclusion Fund to support capital improvements to the 150-year-old Kennedy Mansion, as well as training and program enhancements, to enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

    I invite you to learn more about the Beyond 20: Arts Without Barriers campaign and how you can help. Your support will make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals who may otherwise be excluded from the arts.

    Beyond 20: Arts Without Barriers Digital Brochure by Kennedy Heights Arts Center

    Through Beyond 20, we’re not just building a legacy; we’re building a community where creativity flourishes, unencumbered by barriers of any kind.

    To kick off the campaign, we set an initial goal of raising $150,000 at our Cheers to 20 Years anniversary event in May–and I am thrilled to say we exceeded that goal! To date, we have received donations totaling $183,388. What a fantastic start, but we need your help!

    Please join us in ensuring Arts with Barriers, now and in the future, by giving today.

    Thank you for being with us on this journey, and here’s to the next 20 years and beyond!



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