Mission: To expose, educate, engage, and entertain audiences by presenting and supporting art and artists of African descent.
About the Organization: Founded in 1987 by the Atlanta-based Fulton County Arts Council following a study commissioned by Michael Lomax — then chair of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners (and later president and CEO of UNCF) — the National Black Arts Festival is the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States focused exclusively on art and artists of African descent. Since producing the first NBAF festival in 1988, the organization has presented educational and enriching events and programs featuring artists from the African diaspora, the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. In addition to promoting art and culture as a vehicle for bringing diverse communities together, NBAF works to identify talent and encourage creativity among young people of African descent and provides educational programs in music, dance, film, visual arts, theater, and literary arts in Atlanta, nationally, and internationally.
Current Programs: In addition to its summer festival program, NBAF presents a variety of public programs year-round, including exhibits, film screenings, symposia, panel discussions, interactive salons, and competitions. The Visual Arts Program includes a Fine Art of Collecting series, artists in conversation, and gallery hops — programs designed to inspire and educate a new generation of collectors. Programming in the literary arts, performing arts, and film support and present artists at various stages of their careers.
NBAF's youth programs include an Adopt-a-School program that brings the organization's Move/Dance! Program — featuring a curriculum that combines dance lessons with journal writing and research on the history of African-American dance — to public middle schools in Atlanta. The NextGen Artist program supports the dreams, creativity, and budding talents of high school juniors and seniors through a structured artistic curriculum featuring workshops, classes, lectures, mentoring, business and professional development, apprenticeships, and opportunities for competitive scholarships. And the Fashion Forward competition recognizes fashion design students who have distinguished themselves with their academics, talent, creativity, and innovative approach to fashion design; winners receive a cash award and the winning designs are exhibited in the windows at Neiman Marcus.
Funding: NBAF is supported by the City of Atlanta, the Fulton County Arts Council, foundations, corporations, businesses, and individuals.