Founded by Margaret Cunningham, an artist inspired by the Black pride and The Black Arts movements, the Hamilton Hill Arts Center’s mission is to promote the knowledge, preservation and continued development of African and African Diasporic art and culture.
For 50 years, the Hamilton Hill Arts Center has provided exceptional Cultural Arts programming for people of all ages. We are a minority operated and managed 501(c)3 cultural arts center with programming that serves over 10,000 people a year on and off site. We are Schenectady’s only African/African-American Arts Center and the only remaining community center in Hamilton Hill. HHAC was founded to address the needs of unsupervised youth in Schenectady’s inner city and the need still exists today.
Valerie Lewis, has been with the Arts Center for 45 years. She has extensive skills in the arts and crafts of the African diaspora. She has received city, state and national recognition for her dedicated community service, including Valerie Lewis day which was named in her honor.
Mark Sincere Barmore has worked with Schenectady youth, for 9 years. A graduate of Boricua College's, Human Service Program, and a Certified Counseling Aide, Sincere has worked the Youth Voices Center, Inc., Carver Community Center, and the Youth Advocate Program. He volunteers with Divine's Interventions youth suicide prevention program and supports youth with character development programs at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center.
Mike Hines has been dancing for 8 years, he is a street dancer who specializes in pop locking. He teaches hip hop dance and pop locking for “King’s Dancers” and has performed locally, at proctors at the Red Vent event. He has received awards for his dancing skills and loves to share his style of creative dancing with children.
Jessica Hunter is a Board member, and a child of the Arts Center. She is currently involved with Artreach as a volunteer and with Umoja African Dance and Drumming as an assistant instructor. She has a B.S. and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from RPI and MIT, and has coding experience in Fortran, Matlab, C, C++, and Python. She has been involved with Umoja for 15 years.
Jayvon Wilson has 17 years of drumming experience.
Sue Wilson-Dean helped to found the original Umoja African Dancers and has been the choreographer and instructor for many years. As one of the Burundi Dancers, she was trained by Omoye Cooper. She later studied under Dr. Pearl Primus, and Master Drummer Babatunde. Mrs. Wilson-Dean, holds a Master’s in Education.
Fabayo Egunbunmi is the founder and director of the Anansi’s Children theater . A classically trained pianist, and Catherine Dunham style dancer, she is a co-author of a one act play and performed as a founding member of the Root Wymn theater company. Locally, she played Sojourner Truth, in a one act solo performance called Ain't I A Woman.
Aston “Robot” Ellis inherited his love of music from a family that has been a part of the Jamaican music industry for over 60 years. A bandleader, bass player vocal and music arranger and steel pan player, Aston has taught and performed internationally for over 25 years
Jermaine Wells is an award-winning writer, musician, lecturer and entertainer. He has appeared in films, commercials and has collaborated with such greats as Quincy Jones. An in-demand Masters of Ceremonies and lecturer, he has spoken at many universities and events.
Miki Conn, former Director of the Hamilton Hill Arts Center is an artist, storyteller, lecturer, poet and former civil rights activist, has exhibited in Africa, Upstate New York, Long Island and Boston. A published author, she lectures on the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements, teaches writing, art and offers workshops in crafts from Africa, where she lived for several years.
Sean Reid, (DJ 250), has worked in the music industry for over 20 years. A graphic artist ,DJ, and standup comedian, Sean Reid is a local producer who enjoys developing the stars of tomorrow.
Zorkie Nelson comes from a long line of Ghanaian master drummers. A founding member of the Pan-African Orchestra (PAO) with whom he toured internationally, Zorkie was a member of the group Odadaa!, which toured with Wynton Marsalis. He is a drummer, vocalist, and flute player in the eclectic jazz fusion group HEARD and leads his own group, Gballoi.