Black Nativity
Elma Lewis

Elma Lewis
School of Fine Arts

Musical Productions

Board of Directors











Edmund Barry Gaither










The National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) is a private, not-for-profit institution committed to preserving and fostering the cultural arts heritage of black peoples worldwide through arts teaching, and the presentation of professional works in all fine arts disciplines.

Located in Boston, it was founded in 1968 by Dr. Elma Lewis who remained its Artistic Director until her passing. Edmund Barry Gaither serves as NCAAA's Director and Curator of its Museum division.

Responding to needs identified at a conference of black creative intellectuals convened at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, in 1967, Lewis conceived the NCAAA. It subsumed the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts (ELSFA) which she had launched in 1950, thereby creating a teaching, performing and visual arts institution which would emphasize artistic excellence and the contribution of the arts to wholesome human development. Lewis intended the organization to be locally, nationally and internationally active in bringing black heritage in the arts to the world.  More NCAAA History...

In the late 1970s, the ELSFA underwent a period of great financial stress resulting in staff and service reductions, and a transfer of facilities ownership from the ELSFA to the NCAAA. Compounding the problems was a fire which interrupted operations—except for the Museum which was housed elsewhere--at the turn of the 1980s. Use of the school building ended altogether after a second fire in 1984. Nevertheless, the Museum and Black Musical Productions remain vital divisions of the NCAAA.

Under present plans, the NCAAA hopes to return to the scale and scope of its earlier operations, since its original mission remains compelling.

The NCAAA remains the largest independent black cultural arts institution in New England. It has forged an unbroken record of public service in the celebration of the world heritage of black people since 1968. Commitment to excellence in the arts and wholesome cultural development remain its hallmark.