Over the last 30 days I have been in the lab curating a program mix for NBAF’s 25th Anniversary. It’s a tough year. When they first told me the budget number I seriously considered walking away. There was no way I could make this work. No money for the big shows at Symphony Hall or to fly in the mandatory celebs from all over the place or to fill Centennial Park with non-stop music for four days. I’m good at what I do, but not that good.
I didn’t walk away because I intimately understand that the heart of the National Black Arts Festival was never its perceived largess. The heart of the Festival has always been the artists, the art and the audiences and how we connected through experiencing something authentic in the space the Festival created. The boldness of talented artists who, through music, theater, dance, film, visual art, literature and the humanities; unapologetically told the stories of our collective Blackness in relation to the diverse worlds in which we LIVE is the heart of the National Black Arts Festival. The lack of resources made me remember what I have loved and appreciated about this Festival since I first experienced it in 1990. It forced me to process everything differently as I designed the programming. This summer it’s simple. You, me, the artists and the art.
I’m as temperamental as any artist when it comes to my creative pallet. Like Eryka Badu said … “I’m sensitve about my shit.” Many will dismiss this 3-month program series and harken back to the NBAF 10-day, big budget heyday. But others will appreciate the beauty of creating AMAZING in the void. This summer’s schedule is full of gems, brilliant in their simplicity.
Thanks in advance to my team … Ravi A. Windom, Roni Nicole, Jonathan Johnson, Stephanie S. Scott and Keith Knows. Big ups to Darlene Brown Hamilton, Tracy Murrell and Evette Dorham for executing the marketing and web components.
Join me in reflecting on 25 years of a cultural organization that changed lives, influenced creative culture, built careers, introduced artists to the masses, presented dope art, and has literally impacted people throughout the African Diaspora. I look forward to seeing you at NBAF’s 25th Anniversary Program Series, curated by Leatrice Ellzy for Beatrix Moss (that’s me!).
New York’s most fabulous outdoor dance party – Midsummer Night Swing ― marks its 25th Anniversary season this summer by inviting New York’s iconic dance bands to bring live music to Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, taking place Tuesdays through Saturdays, June 25—July 13.
This summer’s celebration kicks off with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, playing big band classics by Duke Ellington and others, ideal for swinging the night away. Tickets and passes go on sale May 22. Visit the more website for more details.