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About Us //



The Community Art Center has been a cornerstone institution for Cambridge residents since it was founded in 1937 by a group of local parents.


A young boy hangs out in Hanging out in Newtowne Court in the 1950's

1950's - Hanging out in Newtowne Court


Young people are having fun and playing together outside in the 1970's

1970's - Having fun in the summer

By 1980, the Art Center received its first state contract and childcare license, allowing us to improve services and expand our reach.

A group of teenagers, one holding a camera, are posing in front of the Community Art Center

1990's - Providing leadership for youth


In 1996, Teen Media Program teens founded the Do It Your Damn Self!! National Youth Film Festival - Becoming the first film festival in the country completely curated and coordinated by youth!


The Art Center found its first home in a basement space of Newtowne Court Housing Development. Having just been completed in 1938 under the Works Progress Administration, Newtowne Court is one of the oldest public housing developments in the nation. The Art Center functioned as a community center for both Newtowne Court and eventually Washington Elms.


3 children hang out in front of a pool table in the old basement of the Community Art Center in the 1960's

1960's - Relaxing in our old basement space


A young woman poses in front of artistic drawings

1980's - Improving our artistry


Teenagers are celebrating the launch of the do it your damn self film festival in a movie theater mid 1990's

Mid-1990's -  Launching DIYDS!! 



In 2000, we completed a successful capital campaign that raised $145,000 to build-out a specialized editing studio, darkroom, computer lab, and pottery studio.

In 1999, with the help of the Cambridge Housing Authority, we moved into a facility across the street from Newtowne Court. A former Poloroid warehouse, which today offers a health clinic among other community services.

A group of teenagers is practicing in a dance classroom

Early 2000's - Dancing at 119 Windsor


President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities awards Teen Media Program Coming up Taller Award.


In 2007, the Art Center received a Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development capital improvements grant.


In 2011, we strengthen our organizational structure and improve our sustainability to further support our growth:

  • Comprehensive Strategic Plan is completed. 

  • Implementation of newly evolved program structure begins.

  • Capital campaign a success, resulting in complete facility renovation.


Our new Community Programs launched, increasing the amount of  after school activities and public art in the Port/Area IV:

  • Executive Director Eryn Johnson receives Creative Activist Award from ArtCorps.

  • This is Where We Live, Work and Create Public Art Initiative is launched through a block long mural and gallery commissioned by Novartis Pharmaceuticals which will be on view through 2016.

  • One9TEEN After Dark offers first evening programs for teens in collaboration with Cambridge Boys and Girls Club and Tutoring Plus.



In 2014 and 2015, our school age and teen programs evolve with the support of funders, and the reach of our community programs and public art initiatives grows:

  • Teen Media Program completes 160 foot mural entitled Portraits of the Port, commissioned by MIT and mounted on Main Street across from the Newtowne Court Housing Development.

  • Our Family Art Initiative is funded by the Department of Education’s After School and Out of School Time Initiative.

  • Our Creative Approaches to Therapeutic Support initiative is funded by C.F. Adams Trust.

  • The Port Arts Council is formed and includes 21 residents, parents, business owners and teens.

  • Community Programs kicks off the Port Stories Public Art Project by curating our first concert series in Kendall Square and Newtowne Court, the Change for Peace Art and Music Series.

  • Teen Media Program presents art exhibits in Kendall Square, MIT Museum, Cambridge City Hall and VMWare.

  • SACC youth create a mural installed in Tech Square and perform an interdisciplinary original play, REBEL, about the Haitian Revolution, at the Cambridge YMCA.

We enhanced our community partnerships, increasing and improving our collaborations with local corporations, businesses and organizations:

  • Alexandria Real Estate commissions a 160 foot mural on their East Cambridge construction site, which will be created by Teen Media Program Digital Arts Studio.

  • Executive Director, Eryn Johnson works with a group of ten social justice focused Cambridge-based nonprofit leaders to form the new Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition.

  • The Community Art Center and Novartis are awarded the “Central in Motion Award” from the Central Square Business Association for “exemplifying community collaboration that adds to our culture, landscapes, enhances our neighborhoods, and makes Central Square unique.”


A group of young people and adults is painting and helping each other with their art outside

2014 - Creating with the community

A young girl, an adult woman and an older woman are attending a party at the Community Art Center

2015 Celebrating our past, building our future!



In 2020 we kept our doors open during the global pandemic that took the world by storm. Having made it through that uncertain time, we continue to make strides. Ensuring that as always the children come first. We do this in the same way we always have, with community partnerships that allow the voices and talents of our students to shine forth!

A young boy sketching on a notepad in a classroom, an orange shair is behind him
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