ACNA HISTORY

ACNA Centre was set up to improve the quality of life for African Caribbean people living or working in Nottingham during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s racial discrimination affected black people in housing, education, employment and social interaction. It was difficult for African Caribbean people to hire premises for social functions or activities.

Black groups formed to challenge this discrimination and promote social cohesion. These groups included the West Indian Nationals Association (WINA), the National Association for Coloured Development (NACD), Solidarity for Protection against Deprivation and Exploitation (SPADE) and the West Indian Students Association (WISA).

The most pressing need at that time was to acquire premises to house the various activities organised by African Caribbean people. Several promises were made to provide premises for the back people of Nottingham to hold their social functions but none of these promises materialised.

In 1969 it was proposed that the old Blue Coat School should be closed down and its use changed to house an International Community Centre.

Black groups in the City were invited to discuss how best they could utilise the facilities of the proposed Centre (ICC). At the meeting SPADE and NACD, argued that African Caribbean people needed their own premises, which they could use to meet the needs of their community. Subsequently they withdrew from the proposed scheme.

After the meeting, SPADE and the NACD, amalgamated and formed the Black People’s Freedom Movement. It was agreed that this organisation would incorporate and acquire premises where African Caribbean people could develop recreational, social and educational activities for all age groups in the community.

There was no Grant Aid at the time. The team of visionaries approached various organisations firms and interested bodies to seek financial support. Only the Council of Churches offered any support. Later, it was agreed that the organisation would be called the “Afro-Caribbean National Artistic Centre (Nottingham) Ltd.”, and that it should be referred to as the ‘ACNA Centre’.
 The Memorandum and Articles of Association were approved late 1970 and the company was incorporated in April 1971. Within a very short time eleven black groups affiliated to ACNA.  In July 1971 premises ACNA acquired premises on Derby Road, Nottingham, on a five-year lease agreement. Other groups moved in with ACNA but by 1973 many of these groups had ceased to function. ACNA soon outgrew the premises. Its activities included: a Supplementary School, a surgery to advise members of the black community about welfare rights and other related issues, camping trips for the black youth, political meetings, recreational activities, and a Senior Citizens Luncheon Club.
 
In 1973 Central Government initiated the Grant Aid scheme for various activities in the community. In 1976 the Urban Aid programme was started, ACNA applied to the City Council, which was then under the Labour Party, for Grant Aid to purchase premises, fixtures, and fittings and for running costs. The application was approved and running costs provided for five years.
 
Initially it proved difficult to find suitable premises and by late 1977 the Grant Aid had reduced, however, ACNA acquired an old school, which is a listed building, on Hungerhill Road, secured a fifty-year lease and ACNA moved into the Centre 13th September 1978.

1978 in order to raise funds for the cost of running the Centre, members of the black community formed a social club, the Afro-Caribbean Club.
The Manpower Service Commission came into being in the late 1970’s, and by the early1980’s ACNA had set up a Youth Training Scheme (YTS), which catered for the training needs of young unemployed people and offered a wide range of courses. This later became a Youth Opportunity Scheme (YOPS).
 
Due to changes in funding ACNA had to discontinue the valuable activity and joined forces with the Indian and the Pakistani Centres, to create the Joint Indian, Pakistani and Afro- Caribbean Community Project (JIPAC). After some years, financial constraints forced the closure of this project.
 
Because of the support given by members of ACNA and the Club, the Centre was able to house the Afro-Caribbean Senior Citizens Luncheon Club, ACNA Women’s Group, WINA, the Robin Hood Domino Club, and the Women’s Keep Fit Group.