Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Promise of Media Access, Training to South Shore Neighborhood

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THE SOUTH SHORE COMMUNITY will soon have a Media Arts Center dedicated to African American women media makers. Dr. Yvonne Welbon, founder of Sisters in Cinema, is joined by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other leaders for an indoor ceremonial groundbreaking on February 8, 2021.

Sisters in Cinema held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, to celebrate construction at its new Media Arts Center, located at 2310 E. 75th St.

Founded by Dr. Yvonne Welbon in 1997, Sisters in Cinema, started as an online resource for and about African American women media makers.

“I was in graduate school and I only knew the name of one Black woman filmmaker — Julie Dash. I wanted to find more and one of my professors told me, ‘Perhaps you’re the second one.’ I knew that wasn’t true, so I went looking for my sisters in cinema.” Welbon said.

Today Sisters in Cinema is a Chicago based 501(c)3 non-profit with an inclusive mission to center and celebrate Black girls, women, and gender non-conforming media makers, providing programs designed to educate, raise visibility, and support and serve our communities.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the Solarium at the South Shore Cultural Center, and was attended by distinguished guests, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot discussed how Sisters in Cinema will be a key pillar in the city’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

“Sisters in Cinema will help grow a film ecosystem and talent base right here in Chicago, all while giving residents from historically excluded groups the opportunity and resources they need to find success and entry into the industry.” Said Lightfoot.

“These resources will create more access to opportunities for aspiring creatives from underrepresented backgrounds and make our art community even more diverse and inclusive than it is today. Helping inspire the next great artist—the next great Lena Waithe, Shonda Rhimes, and countless other talented Chicago artists.”

Others in attendance included city leaders such as 7th Ward Alderman Greg Mitchell, Commissioner Maurice Cox of the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, and Executive Director Trice Tonya of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, plus the directors of the Chicago Film Office, Kwame Amoaku and the Illinois Film Office, Peter Hawley.

Once completed, the Media Art Center will house gallery space, a 45-seat theater, editing and computer lab, offices, and classroom and conference space. It will be open to the community and media makers and is set to offer workshops, courses, and comprehensive programming free of charge when it opens in September 2021. Sisters in Cinema programs include:

  • The Sisters in Cinema Documentary Fellowship
  • The Sisters Screening Series
  • The Sister Social: Networking Industry Events
  • The Sisters in Cinema Newsroom
  • Sisters in Cinema Productions

The Media Arts Center, scheduled to open in September 2021, is a project made possible, in part, by the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which finances commercial and cultural projects in historically disinvested neighborhoods by redirecting revenue generated from downtown development. South Shore is one of the neighborhoods that benefits from this program and is also where Sisters in Cinema’s Welbon grew up and currently lives.

“The Media Arts Center is a deep investment in the South Shore community,” Welbon said. “We are bringing jobs, learning opportunities, and we are also creating a space for healing. Through our work, we are creating a pipeline for those who wish to work in the creative industries.”

To learn more about Sisters in Cinema and its Media Arts Center in South Shore, check out the attached FAQ, attached images, and/or visit website: www.sistersincinema.com.

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