The Sunshine Cultural Arts Center

Growing East St. Louis through the Arts

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Sunshine Cultural Arts Center’s community leaders have been making an impact in the lives of East St. Louis’s children and families for over 35 years.

At the Sunshine Cultural Arts Center, students: receive free, culturally-informed opportunities to increase academic and personal achievement; participate in weekly after-school instrumental and singing lessons; participate in culturally informed dance and drumming programs; learn to be self-advocates and advocates for others; and learn to celebrate self and community.

Curriculum Modules Include: Self-esteem, self-awareness & self-behavior; Effective Communication; Conflict Resolution;

Anger Management Skills; Health & Nutrition Counseling; Substance Abuse Prevention & Counseling; Lifestyle Decisions & Decision Making; Youth Leadership Development; and Cultural Arts Performance as Inner-attainment.

We are committed to the youth and families of East St. Louis for a lifetime of transformation. Visit us and see all that we have to offer.




Tap into the rich history of West Africa to learn the dances and drumming rituals that inform communities even today. This program, led by Katherine Dunham taught master drummer, Sunshine Lee, cultivates discipline, community, and elevates form, movement and rhythm as vehicles for transformation and celebration.


Nearly one-fourth of America's children live in mother-only families. Out of the families living in the Metro East a startling 89% of them are headed by a single mother. Positive male role models have a profound effect on children. For this reason we offer an empowerment program designed to teach men to be better partners, fathers, employees and citizens - equipping them with the tools they need to strengthen their communities.


Learning to play an instrument takes patience, persistence, and focus - the same qualities students need to excel in school and in their future career. We support our students every step of the way, helping them achieve their goals throughout their childhood through culturally-informed, engaging, music and instrument instruction. The Harmony Project takes place both in classrooms as part of our collaborative partnership with School District 189 and also at our Center and is part of the National Harmony Project.


Children require safe, nurturing environments to explore their innate creativity and their surroundings. This after-school program offers safe space and mentorship based resources that empower children to embrace and learn about music, dance, culture, performance and themselves.


As a member of the Brave New Voices network, Catalyst mines the rich history of the oral tradition to help youth define a new American voice, linking poetry, spoken word, youth development and civic engagement as a means of deconstructing dominant narratives to achieve a more inclusive and active culture. This program is committed to a critical, youth-centered philosophy placing young people, ages 13 to 18, in control of their intellectual and artistic development.



The Sunshine Cultural Arts Center knows that we cannot arrest ourselves out of a problem. Instead, we must provide resources to youth and families to help them succeed. Midnight Basketball provides safe recreational opportunities in crime hot spots for young men who are most at risk of being victims or perpetrators of violent crimes in the Metro East. During the 8-week season, participants are connected to positive role models and community resources.


A variety of workshops, classes and activities are available annually during the summer. With a wonderful resource of volunteers, these opportunities are as diverse as those who give their time to serve the youth and families of the Metro East.


Rooted in the belief that every person deserves an opportunity to strengthen themselves and their families as a first-step to strengthening their communities, The Sunshine Cultural Arts Center offers paid work opportunities to help individuals 18 years of age and older develop the work skills necessary to compete in today's economy.


The Sunshine Cultural Arts Center knows that success lies in communities coming together. Each week, the Center hosts a community dinner inviting anyone who would like to join to come out, meet the Center staff and Executive Leadership and break bread together as communities have long done. It is a way of relaxing, spending time together, and enjoying the unique gifts and strengths of every individual around the table.


In alignment with The Sunshine Cultural Arts Center's purpose to increase awareness and promote the embracing of culture, we offer annual travel opportunities to various locations around the world for our performer participants. 2017 will showcase a trip to Israel where the Community Performance Ensemble has been invited to offer dance and drumming workshops and to create and strengthen communities beyond nationality or place of origin.


The 21st Century, unlike any other point in history, requires individuals to have developed computer and technology-based skill sets necessary for the workforce and to meet a contemporary shift in everyday communication. TechART (Technology Application Resource and Tutoring) teaches individuals of all ages basic computer navigation, office software, application and resume completion and how to utilize the web to search and apply for employment.