Protestors gather at the SCAD Museum of Art Sunday

SCAD Museum of Art
SCAD Museum of Art(WTOC)
Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 8:31 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This Super Museum Sunday, the SCAD Museum of Art opened its doors to the public but some locals had issues with some of the planned activities.

A group of people took to the street Sunday to protest the Savannah College of Art and Design, in light of a bus tour the school was giving for Super Museum Sunday.

“I will fight for my culture, I will fight for my heritage.”

According to SCAD’s website the bus tour of Savannah, was meant to “illuminate SCAD’s commitment to preserving local Black history.

Those protesting outside of the SCAD Museum of Art say they disagree with the purpose of the tour.

They say SCAD’s presence has gentrified parts of Savannah, leading to Black families being pushed out of their homes.

“When they had their openings here, on Turner Blvd and Fahm Street, they went to Barnard Street, and we’re trying to let the community know people are being displaced. Look at Montgomery Street, look at MLK Boulevard, we see people displaced, no longer who are part of the fabric of this community, no longer here,” Dr. Amir Jamal Toure, Protestor said.

Another point of contention for protestors they say they’re frustrated by what SCAD pays in taxes as a non-profit organization.

Under IRS regulations, non-profits are exempt from paying property taxes.

SCAD owns almost 70 buildings in the City of Savannah.

Those in attendance today, calling for a different approach to economic development.

“We can have economic empowerment, we can have beautiful cities. It doesn’t require displacement. There are ways that you can make sure you keep residents there. It just requires a little extra planning, and of course, it’s not cost effective. And that’s what people care about the most: what’s going to make the most money in the least amount of time,” Protestor Lindsey Grovenstein said.

There was no specific group that organized today’s demonstration, but some of the people I spoke to say they plan to continue protesting in the future.

Statement from SCAD listed below:

“SCAD’s annual Black history tours tell important stories about Savannah’s Black history through art, poetry, film, and song. These tours are free and open to the public. This year our university is once again delighted to host current city leaders, former mayors, community members, local families, and visitors for these impactful and important historical tours. This annual initiative is another example of SCAD faculty and staff honoring our commitment to the preservation and celebration of Black history and the uplifting of diverse voices.”

-Darrell Naylor- Johnson, VP of SCAD Savannah

WTOC talked to SCAD and here are three informational points from the phone call:

  • Over SCAD’s 40+ year history the university has consistently reinvested in the Savannah community including donating and preserving buildings and historical sites important to the city’s African American community. This includes SCAD’s donation of the Beach Institute to the King Tisdell Cottage, the installation of a historical marker on Broughton Street to commemorate a 1960s sit-in, and uplifting the important voices of William and Ellen Craft and their journey to freedom.
  • SCAD has adaptively rehabilitated more than 60 historic properties in Savannah, none of which were occupied at the time of the university’s acquisition, and the majority of which were derelict and had been abandoned for years and left to ruin.
  • Recently, SCAD invested $5 million to transition a former three-story residence hall in Pulaski Square into 22 apartment units for workforce housing. Workforce housing is a priority for this community and communities across the country. SCAD is proud to lead the effort to provide housing in downtown Savannah at below market rates for hardworking Savannahians.