Since it was founded by the Fulton County Arts Council under the guidance of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in Atlanta, Georgia over twenty-six years ago, the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) has built a proud reputation as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States focused exclusively on the arts and artists of African descent. NBAF was established with the first festival in 1988 after a study commissioned two years earlier by Michael Lomax, then Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.
With strong leadership and support from the community, the festival, which is the centerpiece of NBAF’s mission, has evolved into an annual showcase of artists of African descent who are creating, innovating and producing extraordinary work in the disciplines of dance, film, literature, music, theater and visual art. Over its three-decade long history, NBAF has attracted millions of audiences from within the region, across the country and around the world who are entertained, educated and enriched by its annual summer festival, world class performances, visual arts presentations and commissioned works and by its year-round education and public programs. By featuring artists from the African Diaspora, from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America, NBAF promotes art and culture as vehicles for bringing diverse communities together.
Over the years, NBAF has featured acclaimed artists Maya Angelou, Wynton Marsalis, Pearl Cleage, Harolyn Blackwell, Varnette Honeywood, Spike Lee, Katherine Dunham, Harry Belafonte, Maurice Hines, Maxi Priest, Sonia Sanchez, Radcliffe Bailey, Bill T. Jones, Youssou N’Dour, Carrie Mae Weems, Julie Dash, Amiri Baraka, Tito Puente, Ousmane Sembene, National Ballet de Guinea, Gladys Knight, Les Nubians, Philadanco, The Heath Brothers, Cicely Tyson, August Wilson, Alfre Woodard, Angie Stone, Omar Sosa, Jessica Care Moore, Nikki Giovanni, Russell Gunn, Gregory Porter, among many others.
NBAF is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that is governed by its Board of Directors and supported by the City of Atlanta, the Fulton County Arts Council and by local and national government funders, corporations, foundations, businesses and individuals.