When the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative (SCAI) was incorporated it’s purpose was exclusively for cultural and educational purposes. The mission of SCAI was to preserve, propagate and advance African-American Art forms and culture through the performance, education and exhibition. SCAI’s mission was forwarded through the following objectives:
- To Create educational opportunities for students, artists/teachers via workshops and residences.
- To offer to the youth of our community positive role models and lifestyles through mentoring and internship experiences
- To network with other community and arts organizations.
- To identify and research positive cultural and behavioral patterns based on historical parameters.
The Sutherland, located on the corner of 47th & Drexel in Bronzeville, has a history of service to its community. Built in 1917, its first function was as a military hospital for veterans of World War I. A few years later, when it was converted to the elegant Hotel Sutherland, it was known as a popular gathering place for neighborhood residents and the home of Jazz great, Louis Armstrong.
The most notable era in the Sutherland’s history was during the early 1950’s and 60’s when the Sutherland Show Lounge operated in the space adjacent to the hotel. The Show Lounge was made famous by its grandeur and its ability to attact national talent. The club was further distinguished by its status as a “black and tan” establishment, where black and white folks sat together, enjoying some great Jazz. According to experts, any black musician of importance in the modern era lived or played at the Sutherland. Jazz greats such as Dizzy, Miles, Coltrane and Nancy Wilson played or hung out at the Sutherland.