In the twenty three years since its founding by the Fulton County Arts Council, the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) has become the largest celebration of art and artists of African descent in the world. Showcasing the work and contributions of artists in eight disciplines – dance, film, literature, music, performance art, theater and visual art – the National Black Arts Festival has attracted audiences of more than half a million at its annual event mid summer in Atlanta, Georgia. In the years 2000-2001, NBAF moved from a festival-focused organization to a year-round producing, presenting and educational institution.
The NBAF typically presents the work of artists from the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America. The first festival was held in 1988 and the most recent in 2011. NBAF events are held in traditional and non-traditional venues throughout the city. Many of its events are free. Audiences of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are educated, enlightened and inspired by its rich variety of high-quality artistic presentations. Over the years, NBAF has featured internationally acclaimed artists such as Maya Angelou, Wynton Marsalis, Pearl Cleage, Varnette Honeywood, Spike Lee, Katherine Dunham, Harry Belafonte, Sonya Sanchez, Radcliffe Bailey, Bill T. Jones, Youssou N’Dour, Tito Puente, Ousamane Sembene, National Ballet de Guinea, Gladys Knight, Les Nubians, Philadanco, Cicely Tyson, August Wilson, Alfre Woodard, Angie Stone, Carrie Mae Weems, Jessica Care Moore, Wycliffe Gordon, Nikki Giovanni, Russell Gunn, Omar Sosa, The O’Jays, Gregory Porter, Ivan Lins and many, many others.
The NBAF mission is to develop, expose and educate audiences to the arts and culture of the African Diaspora and to provide diverse opportunities for artistic and creative expression. NBAF recognizes and promotes art and culture as vehicles for bringing diverse communities together for dialogue and learning.
A 501(c)3 organization, the National Black Arts Festival, Inc. was created in 1987 by the Fulton County Arts Council (FCAC). It is supported by an annual operating grant from the FCAC, along with grants from other public agencies, private foundations and through corporate sponsorships, merchandising, memberships and ticket sales.
NBAF is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of corporate, arts, and community leaders.