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Arlington Family makes transformational gift to ACA Capital Campaign in memory of their daughter

The Shaira Ali Gallery & Performance Space will be be named in memory of a longtime ACA participant


Mohamad and Kecia Ali of Arlington have made a gift of $100,000 to the Arlington Center for the Arts Future Fund Capital Campaign in memory of their daughter, Shaira Ali, a longtime ACA participant who died in 2012.  The gallery and performance space at the new Arlington Center for the Arts facility will be named in her honor, as a lasting tribute to her love of the arts and the ACA. 

The Ali family has also established an annual summer camp scholarship in Shaira’s name to create opportunities for children from low-income families to take part in the same kinds of arts experiences that Shaira and her siblings Saadia and Tariq enjoyed at ACA.

“Among her many wonderful qualities,” says Kecia Ali, “Shaira was a talented artist and singer. She was an ACA camper, counselor-in-training, and counselor. It is fitting that we remember her by supporting an organization that places the arts at the center of community life.”

Shaira Ali working as a camp counselor at ACA in 2011

“We are deeply honored and grateful to the Ali family for their generosity,” says Linda Shoemaker, Executive Director of the Arlington Center for the Arts.  “This gift represents a major step forward in the capital campaign to create the new ACA.  More importantly, it is a wonderful way to commemorate Shaira’s creative spirit and passion for the arts, and to remember her warmth and her very special way with ACA’s youngest campers, who absolutely adored her.” 

The gallery bearing Shaira’s name will be a significant new art and performance space for the community.  Situated in the heart of the new arts center’s design, the Shaira Ali Gallery will include a large, open exhibit space with a small modular stage and flexible seating for up to 49 people.

“The intimate size of the new performance space,” says Shoemaker, “will lend itself to ‘up close and personal’ experiences with artists, musicians, storytellers, poets, and creative people of all kinds.  We envision this space as a kind of ‘creative community living room,’” she says, “with an evolving mix of art exhibitions, concerts, performances, films, spoken word, salons, and whatever else the community would like to see and experience.”

With the Ali family’s gift, the ACA capital campaign has now raised over $700,000 in gifts and pledges toward a $1 million goal.  The campaign, launched in 2016, will fund the renovation and build-out of the Arlington Center for the Arts’ new location at 20 Academy Street, above the Senior Center. 

Rendering of the Shaira Ali Gallery & Performance Space

(Johnson Robert Associates)

In addition to the gallery/performance space, the new ACA will feature 5 classrooms, including a dedicated clay studio, six artist studios, an artist-in-residence program, and a collaborative, shared artist co-working space.

The ACA left its 30-year home last June, to make way for the new Gibbs School, now under construction.  ACA continues to offer community programming out of temporary space rented from the Town of Arlington.

The capital campaign will continue through the build-out, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks.  Contributions at every level are welcome, and can be made by phone, mail, or online.  Further naming opportunities are still available.  Those interested in learning more are encouraged to contact Linda Shoemaker, Executive Director, at (781) 648-6220 or

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