headshot Grace #2I am honored to have assumed the mantle of leadership of the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) during it 27th year of providing stellar, world-class multidisciplinary programs featuring the arts and artists of African descent.

It has been a nearly three-decade-long journey during which NBAF has transformed from a three-day to a ten-day outdoor festival and now to a three-month program season. During the journey, we have been recognized and celebrated within and outside of Atlanta as an economic and cultural driver for the city, as an engaged collaborator and strategic partner with local, national and international cultural and educational organizations, as a supporter of artists of all ages and as a resource and a source of exposure and access for our children, teens and young adults.

After 27 years of consistently offering programs and experiences that are educational, enriching and entertaining to diverse audiences of every age and cultural background, of supporting, presenting, showcasing and celebrating the incredibly rich and diverse art forms and artists of the African Diaspora, we have cause for celebration as we march toward our milestone 30th anniversary in 2018. In 2008, the United States Congress proclaimed NBAF as important to the “cultural fabric of greater Atlanta and all of America.” We are uniquely positioned, and it is on this platform that we continue to build for the future.

Today our three-month program season offers our audiences more and greater opportunities for education, enrichment and entertainment. This new direction and format of spotlighting one discipline and offering an extended program season was initiated last year, and it offers NBAF more opportunities to engage world-class artistic talent, reach larger audiences and establish, deepen and extend cultural and educational partnerships within and outside of Atlanta.

The 2015 program season, which launches in mid-July with programming through mid-September, is focused on dance. We go deep into the cultural history and legacy of dance from the 18th to the 21st centuries with a symposium and a film series, world-class performances, workshops and demonstrations, discussions and conversations that shine a spotlight on dance and the dancers, choreographers and dance companies – the luminaries and trailblazers – who shaped and defined the discipline. Participation and interactivity are this season’s hallmarks – to have a full and enriching experience of dance, you have to get up and dance. It’s just not as much fun sitting on the sidelines!

Our 2015 program season was developed in concert with dance and film historians, scholars and practitioners within and outside of the region. As in the past, partnerships, alliances and engagement with a broad base of cultural and educational organizations has been key. Morehouse College, Duke University, the High Museum of Art, the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, Center for Civil and Human Rights, Center Stage Theater, Georgia Tech Office of the Arts, Hammonds House Museum, Youth Speaks and many others join NBAF as partners, collaborators and venues in the 2015 season.

In 2015, and beyond, NBAF will continue to be a catalyst for and a participant in creative and strategic partnerships and alliances as we encourage and support the presentation of new work, continue to offer a lens into the rich cultural history and legacy of people of African descent and into the creative process through performances, workshops and demonstrations, to draw extraordinary artistic talent to Atlanta and to showcase and nurture local talent in all disciplines. Through programs that support artists and creative forms of expression, we will encourage and support the presentation of new work and to bring arts into our schools in ways that nurture the creativity of our children.

Thank you to our partners, sponsors and volunteers and to our corporate, government, foundation and individual supporters, among them our dedicated Board of Directors, who enable us to realize our mission and to continue our good work.

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Grace C. Stanislaus
Executive Director, NBAF