About Sugar City


Photo by M. Thomas Duggan Photography
Photo by M. Thomas Duggan Photography

Sugar City was last located at 1239 Niagara St Buffalo, NY 14213


Here is a great video interview with our co-founder Aimee Buyea talking all things Sugar City

ABOUT- Sugar City is Buffalo’s only legal, DIY, volunteer-run, all-ages performance venue. Accordingly, all events at Sugar City are drug and alcohol-free and end before 11pm. Our goal is to provide an alternative space to share and create art and community projects based on participatory culture and a do-it-together attitude. This organization focuses itself on the exhibition, performance, and creation of art for those who cannot obtain space from traditional sources. Events and initiatives include, but are not limited to music, films, poetry readings, a zine library, meeting space, art gallery, workshops, and more. We want to break down the barriers of what is and isn’t “art” because in some way everyone is an artist.

HISTORY- Sugar City was conceptualized at a community potluck on a snowy night in February 2008. The project was initially inspired by “Not the Usual Suspects”, a monthly attic variety show that took place in the University Heights in 2006-2007, along with Aimee Buyea’s experience while interning at MASS MoCA in 2007.

For 11 months Sugar Citizens held meetings, researched programmed events at various venues, raised start-up funds, searched for a potential space.

In January 2009 Sugar City found a home at 19 Wadsworth St in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood and for 3 years continued to program events of all varieties including music, art, historical reviews, clothing swaps, potlucks, screenings and more.

Unfortunately in April 2012 Sugar City was forced to relocated after the sale of our building. In spite of the accelerated end to our residency at 19 Wadsworth we decided to celebrate our time with a blowout celebration dubbed “LAST 30 DAYS OF AWESOME. We were open everyday for the final 30 days as a way to let people present events & happenings that they’d been tossing around their imagination. The events included: concerts, figure drawing, the Rock-A-Pancake-A-Thon (a fundraiser concert featuring free pancakes), film screenings, poetry workshops, a sleepover, an 8:00am breakfast punk show, fog night,workshops and a record swap. When the final day rolled around, we had the sweetest possible two-part sendoff. Our last concert at 19 Wadsworth St. featured all-ages icon Calvin Johnson & his band the Hivedwellers, with yummy food and amazing raffles followed by an off-the-hook after-party in the Sugar City style at local art gallery Hallwalls featuring the Buffalo’s infamous Live Karaoke Band and a date auction. Committed to the DIY or Die motto, we went out with a bang and a message that our time in Buffalo was not over.

For the next 2 years we continue our mission by hosting roaming events around Buffalo and searching for the new perfect space.

In Fall of 2013 we are lucky enough to connect with local business owner Bill Breeser and start work securing our current home at 1239 Niagara St, formerly the bar Compton’s After Dark and last open in 2009 as the Playaz Club.

After March 2015 we were given the go from city officials and legally opened a 200 capacity all ages arts and music venue featuring a art gallery and performance space.

Vision Niagara, a stakeholder group that is working together to encourage and implement revitalization of Niagara Street from Busti Avenue to Scajaquada Creek, is very excited and supportive for Sugar City to join the neighborhood. We are looking forward to being part of the development of this corridor and to be neighbors with businesses like Santasiero’s, Community Beer Works and Resurgence Brewery, BT&C Gallery, Rich Products and more!


Due to Covid-19 we closed our Niagara St location. We are hoping to regroup once the pandemic is over.


Code of Conduct –
Sugar City has adopted the following Code of Conduct effective as of July 7, 2017. We at Sugar City strive to be an accessible and safe space to everyone in, and outside, our community. At times it may be difficult to know what it means to be a safe space, but with this Code of Conduct we hope it brings clarity to this question. If you have any questions feel free to contact us anytime at buffalosugarcity@gmail.com
Code of Conduct can be found <a href=”http://tinyurl.com/SugarCityCOC” target=”_blank”>here</a> at http://tinyurl.com/SugarCityCOC
In the interest of fostering an open and welcoming environment for all artists, musicians, attendees and volunteers, we as organizers pledge to making participation in our venue and our community a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of age, body size, disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, nationality, personal appearance, race, religion, sexual identity and orientation, or sexual proclivities between consenting adults.

Charitable Status-
As of September 2014 Sugar City is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. We had long been resistant to becoming a 501(c)3 due to expense, administration and if this status would even help our small organization much. We learned in the summer of 2014 the IRS restructured 501(c)3 applications and made them easy for groups likes us with an operating budget of under $50,000. A normal human can fill this out and annual reports are only a postcard! This is awesome and has given Sugar City access to programs that benefit our mission. Learn more about the 1023EZ form here. Sugar Citizens is the term used to describe core, working members of our collective.

Sugar City has been lucky enough to be awarded a special unexpected surprise from the Rauschenberg Foundation. We want to thank everyone for the support the last 5 years and special thanks to the mysterious group that nominated us and let us accept this award. This is a huge achievement for our organization and we hope to make Buffalo proud. “The SEED grants give emerging artists and organizations the opportunity to think about how best to operate instead of whether they can continue to exist,” said Risë Wilson, the Foundation’s director of philanthropy. “The multi-year support is a stabilizing force that allows grantees to test, learn from and refine their ideas – an important process for producing innovative work and elevating the role art plays in their communities’ wellbeing.”


Proud 2016 Recipient of Give for Greatness Grant from Lawyers for the Arts.


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