Black Theater Festival

On Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, Loud ‘N Unchained aired the Black Theater Festival on their website, which displayed original performances from a diverse group of black entertainers. The festival consisted of a drag performance, monologues, spoken word, one person shows, a play reading and a full-length play.

“This festival means the world to me,” said T. S. Banks, festival creator. “Not because we had to endure so much to put it on, but I just wanted a space, a container to celebrate us. To show us just how magnificent we are, how beautiful we are, how talented we are, how important our stories are, how important it is for us to survive,” he continued.

The shows are free to everyone and are still being hosted on the Black Theater Festival website for people who were not able to see them on the weekend of May 1. The festival, which was founded by T. S. Banks, Doug Reed, Janine Gardner and Dana Pellebon, is the sixth black theater festival to air in the United States. But that is not the only thing about the festival which is breaking ground. It showcases and celebrates artistic expression from individuals in the black community who are also trans, queer and disabled. The festival is also intergenerational, with the youngest member being a 15-year-old poet.

Originally, the festival was going to air in March 2020, but unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans. “This was a project that was happening back in 2019 but it was put on hold due to COVID. And then (Madison College theater instructor) Miranda Hawk contacted me to see how we could partner to do something this year, and I brought this project back to life with the sponsorship of Madison College. So, we are so grateful for their belief in what it is we are doing and they’re generous donations,” said Dana Pellebon.

The Black theater festival came a long way since T. S. Banks first had the idea to contact Doug Reed at Broom Street Theater about a few plays that he wanted to put on. After talking to some Madison friends, T.S. Banks decided that he wanted to showcase a whole array of work by black artists whose voices often get sidelined. Reed connected T. S. Banks with Pellebon and Gardener, who were both excited to be a part of the project.

Originally, the team received 75 submissions from all over the country and planned for the festival to last three weeks before businesses and entertainment venues started shutting down. After Madison College teamed up with Broom Street Theater and T. S. Banks, the artists were contacted to see if they would still be willing to participate in the festival virtually, to which they agreed. The shows were then pre-recorded at Hinckley Studios in Madison. “Hinckley productions really took care to be respectful, and when your identities are respected and not being misgendered and not having to deal with anti-blackness onset, was also something that was incredible,” explained T. S. Banks.

Having the festival pushed into the following year isn’t the only way that COVID-19 caused challenges for the crew. There was a mass effort on everyone’s part to make sure everything was done safely and timely – from detailed post-production work to performing under COVID-19 guidelines.

“These things are very important because we know that black folks in particular have been disproportionately affected by COVID. So, it was important for us to make sure it was an environment where Black artists not only felt represented but felt safe,” said Pellebon.

Even though the festival ended up being a two-day affair, T. S. Banks has high hopes for what the future has in store. “Oh, this is not a one-time event. No, no, no, no. This will most definitely be a recurring, I’m hoping annual, event. The outpouring to see this representation and to see the stories has been overwhelming, and I don’t think that it would be of service to the black community here, the black arts community here, to just put it on once. So, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that we are funded and can go forth with as many festivals as possible,” he said.

To watch the performances online and to learn more about the founders and performers, go to blacktheaterfestival.com. You can also leave tips if you wish under the performers via cash apps, Venmo or PayPal.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

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Ganser move their creativity online for the pandemic

Ganser, clockwise from upper left: Brian Cundiff, Alicia Gaines, Charlie Landsman, and Nadia Garofalo - KIRSTEN MICCOLI

  • Ganser, clockwise from upper left: Brian Cundiff, Alicia Gaines, Charlie Landsman, and Nadia Garofalo
  • Kirsten Miccoli

At one point in our e-mail back-and-forth, Ganser bassist and vocalist Alicia Gaines says, “I miss green-room conversations.” We’ve been talking not just by e-mail but also over Zoom and via Twitter DMs. In any other year this might feel an excessive number of channels to use with just one person, but the pandemic has made communicating like this feel normal.

We’re supposed to be talking about Ganser’s new remix EP, Look at the Sun, which features collaborations with a transatlantic roster of heavyweights: Sadie Dupuis (Sad13, Speedy Ortiz), Bartees Strange, Algiers, Glok (aka Andy Bell of Ride), and Girl Band drummer Adam Faulkner. The EP builds on their critically lauded full-length Just Look at That Sky, which came out in July—and which Paste magazine named one of the top 50 records of last year, describing it as containing “the wide-eyed glare and off-the-wall energy of someone who’s close to the final straw and searching for the best way to cope.”

But because the topic has been inescapable for more than a year now, we’re also talking about how Ganser weren’t supposed to be here, stuck at home. None of us were.

For Ganser, COVID-19 has meant cancelling plans to tour in support of Just Look at That Sky. They’d prepped all the steps that the music industry requires of bands with new albums (including a string of dates with Algiers, who have since contributed a bombastically transformative remix of “Told You So” to Look at the Sun), and they were ready to finally play songs from Just Look at That Sky to their ever-growing fan base. Instead they found themselves looking for ways to cope with the loss of the road.

  • At publication time, four of the five remixes on the new Ganser EP were streaming on Bandcamp.

Online life became a surprising source of opportunity and comfort for Ganser, and they started making more use of social media. “It was really only when lockdown started happening,” says Gaines. “We started meeting new people through Twitter that we started [thinking] would be really fun to work with.”

Social-media spaces are vast wastelands filled with everyone you know and everyone you’re desperate to avoid—but you can also find the comrades you haven’t met yet. “It wound up being a really lovely outlet for us to meet people in new contexts and in different genres that we wouldn’t have normally come across,” Gaines says.

That’s exactly how two of the collaborations on Look at the Sun came together. When shutdowns arrived across the country in March 2020, Sadie Dupuis (who’s based in Philadelphia) and Bartees Strange (based in Washington, D.C.) hadn’t yet met anyone in Ganser. They encountered the band online during the pandemic, and that allowed connections to grow.

Strange, who remixed “Emergency Equipment and Exits,” was drawn to the project in part because he loves to work with other Black artists, especially when he’s a fan. “There just needs to be more of us putting out more things that challenge what the scene looks like and who’s sitting in that scene,” he says.

Services like Twitter are designed as platforms for conversation, and when musicians use such spaces that way, they can develop relationships and collaborations naturally—relying not on record-label machinations but rather on deeper personal bonds. “Working with [Ganser] was sweet, because I felt like I got to kind of know who they are as people,” Strange says. “It made me love their music even more and respect what they’re trying to do with their music.”

Dupuis remixed “Bad Form,” transforming it from the stems up, and she had her first interaction with Ganser on Twitter: they both responded to the same post by Shopping guitarist Rachel Aggs, who was looking for new music recommendations. “Within one minute of the tweet, both Ganser and I had been like: new Backxwash album,” Dupuis says. When she looked up Ganser, she wasn’t surprised to find they were part of a scene she already adored. “They’re a Chicago band, so of course they’re going to be amazing.”

When musicians build new relationships with artists who are already connected to their peers in the industry, they’re re-creating the kind of bond that’s forged in DIY communities. “You want to welcome them into your world and offer them the same kind of support that their community is giving them,” Dupuis says.

When Ganser initially released Just Look at That Sky, they hadn’t been able to perform it live yet, so an EP of remixed songs from the album wasn’t on their minds. But it became a welcome gift all the same. “I think that working on the EP was a bit of a coping mechanism for us,” Gaines says. “We’re a band that has two very different sides. We equally enjoy playing live and being studio tinkerers. And so this is scratching that side while we can’t scratch the other.”

In July 2020, Gaines wrote for Louder about touring as a Black woman in a band with two women and several queer members. She talks about having to work twice as hard to get half as far, about needing to prove her competence to threatened white men, and about how much more stressful police stops in remote areas are for her. Through social media, that article created connections too. “There was a whole bunch of people that responded to the article saying, ‘Oh my God, I recognize this,'” says Gaines.

The conversation around Gaines’s story didn’t directly lead to the collaborations on Look at the Sun, but they’re both part of the same thing: Ganser’s efforts to be visible to and supportive of other marginalized artists, in part by reflecting their lived realities back to them. “We’re all having this experience, but we’re so rare and so separated from each other that it feels like we’re the only ones having it,” says Gaines.

“I think that for artists of marginalized identities, you can have the same PR money as everybody else and it won’t go as far as everybody else,” Gaines says. “But if you start getting into conversations with other artists on Twitter, you’re gonna find some similarities, especially with all of us going through this.” Nothing about the way the music industry has worked this year has been by the book, but as Gaines says, that’s had a silver lining. “You don’t need the traditional avenues necessarily—they can play catch-up.”  v

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

POV 6: Experts examine new digital pathways, technology, marketing art


It was a gathering of like minds, notably artists, art patrons, collectors, art aficionados, critics, legal practitioners among others, at the 6th Edition of ‘Point of View’.

Initiated by The Ben Enwonwu Foundation in collaboration with the Society of Nigerian Artists and supported by Alliance Française /Mike Adenuga Centre Lagos, ‘Point of View’ (POV) is a monthly interdisciplinary talks platform that encourages artists’ professional development while canvasing for public- private funding for the visual arts.


Held at the serene Alliance Française/Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, this edition themed ‘New Digital Pathways: Technology, Creating and Marketing Art’, provided a deeper understanding of how technological advancements like the Internet, social media, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have not only given rise to new forms of art including non-fungible tokens (NFTs) but have also disrupted the global art market.
In charting sustainable growth and predicting the future of the sector in Africa, the talks explored how institutions, art professionals and investors alike can embrace these new developments while exploring the legal implications of collecting.


POV 6 was a rich intellectual discourse as invited experts, drawing from their experiences, interrogated the theme ‘New Digital Pathways: Technology, Creating and Marketing Art’. Presentations and discussions revolved around the issues of “Advancements in Financial Technology: Tokenisation and Fractional Ownership of Art”, “Analytics, Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrency: Predictions for the Art Market”, ‘New Digital Pathways: Technology, Creating and Marketing Art’, and Collecting Art in the Digital Age: Creating, Marketing and Legal Implications respectively.

The Head, Enterprise Innovation Hub, The Nigerian Stock Exchange, Nsikak John’s presentation was on “Advancements in Financial Technology: Tokenisation and Fractional Ownership of Art”, while the second presentations by Seun Alli, lawyer and art consultant, and founder/director, June Creative Art Advisory, focused on “Analytics, Blockchain Technology, Cryptocurrency: Predictions for the Art Market”.

The Panel Discussion, which was moderated by the Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Oyinda Fakeye, focused on Collecting Art in the Digital Age: Creating, Marketing and Legal Implications. The panelists comprised
For about one hour, the issue of Collecting Art in the Digital Age: Creating, Marketing and Legal Implications took centre stage as the panelists, comprising the Director and Founder, Lasmara / Director, Impart Artists Fair, Hana Omilani; Sector Head, Technology, Media & Entertainment, Jackson, Etti & Edu, Ngozi Aderibigbe; Osinachi, who is celebrated as one of Africa’s leading crypto artist; and the CEO, FreeMe Digital Limited, Michael Ugwu, who is an investor and entrepreneur with experience in Nigeria’s music and entertainment industry, were on hand to interrogate the theme.

Initiated by The Ben Enwonwu Foundation in collaboration with the Society of Nigerian Artists and supported by Alliance Française /Mike Adenuga Centre Lagos, ‘Point of View’ (POV) is a monthly series of talks interrogating the evolving role of the visual arts in addressing major issues affecting Africa and the rest of the world.

Launched on September 17, 2019, POV draws from other creative disciplines and such diverse sectors as government, science and technology, to impact policy by raising awareness, advocating for change and inspiring action. It aims to further encourage support and funding for visual artists through public and private sector partnership while ensuring continuing artists’ professional development and empowerment.

This event is proudly supported by the Society of Nigerian Artists, Alliance Française Lagos, CIL Acquico Ltd, Five Cowries Art Education, Jackson, Etti & Edu, Vanguard, Ventures Platform, BusinessDay, Connect Nigeria, TSA Contemporary Art Magazine, EKO Trends, Environews Nigeria, The Lagos Weekender, The Sole Adventurer, WildflowerPR and Omenka.

The fifth edition of ‘Point of View’ (POV 5) titled ‘Funding for the Visual Arts: Public and Private Sector Partnership’ examined recent developments in public and private sector funding support for the creative arts in Nigeria. High on the agenda was the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), a collaboration between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee that seeks to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the creative and information technology sectors in Nigeria.

The Ben Enwonwu Foundation (BEF) was established in 2003 in honour of celebrated Nigerian artist, scholar, educator, art administrator and statesman, Professor Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu MBE, NNOM. Amongst many other accomplishments, Enwonwu was the first Nigerian artist to gain international recognition. Conferred in 1954 with the Member of the distinguished order of the British Empire, he remains the only Black artist to have been commissioned to sculpt Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In Nigeria, Enwonwu was also the first professor of art and first federal art adviser.

Widely acclaimed as Africa’s pioneer modernist artist and one of the greatest in the world, he is credited with laying the philosophical foundations of contemporary

African art by fusing Western techniques and conventions with indigenous traditions and aesthet

ics – his over sixty-year career embracing a broad range of socio-political and economic movements, philosophies and themes including Pan Africanism, Negritude, identity, the body (the gaze), gender equality, spirituality and religion, peace and conflict resolution.

President of the Society of Nigerian Artists, Oliver Enwonwu, who is the founder, executive director, and trustee of The Ben Foundation, explained that The Ben Foundation aims to sustain and build on his life’s work through a three-pronged approach to promote, foster, explain, protect and give prestige to, in Nigeria and globally, his artistic, intellectual and political legacy by such acts as the publishing of a catalogue raisonne in volumes, of his total creative output, and the managing, defending and administering of the intangible rights derived from his work and person; maintain a diverse multi-disciplinary public programme of exhibitions, projects, workshops, talks and lectures that explores in a research-minded way, Enwonwu’s oeuvre while increasing the visibility and appreciation of art from the African continent; and brings together professionals across such diverse sectors as the arts, government, science and technology, to advocate for change, proffer solutions and impact policy in addressing major issues affecting Africa and the rest of the world.

According to Oliver, who is also an art administrator, author, writer, publisher and brand strategist, added that on-going initiatives in this regard are the ‘Ben Enwonwu Distinguished Lecture Series’ and ‘Point of View’ (POV), held in partnership with Alliance Française Lagos/ Mike Adenuga Centre.

“Both foster public understanding of the relevance of the visual arts to socio-economic advancement. Begun in 2004, the series features national and international leaders, renowned thinkers and key policy makers as speakers.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Art exhibit to show perspectives on Black Oklahomans’ intergenerational struggle for equality

The Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center is opening a new exhibit that will give local Black artists space to tell their stories on their own terms.”‘We Believe in the Sun’ came about as a result of the need to talk about the complexity of the Black experience with equality and equal protection under the law and the ongoing struggles with the African American community within our state,” said Pablo Barrera, with the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.The exhibit, titled “We Believe in the Sun,” will show public and private perspectives on Black Oklahomans’ intergenerational struggle for equality. The title comes from a quote by civil rights icon Clara Luper.”We Believe in the Sun” will open on May 6.

The Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center is opening a new exhibit that will give local Black artists space to tell their stories on their own terms.

“‘We Believe in the Sun’ came about as a result of the need to talk about the complexity of the Black experience with equality and equal protection under the law and the ongoing struggles with the African American community within our state,” said Pablo Barrera, with the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.

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The exhibit, titled “We Believe in the Sun,” will show public and private perspectives on Black Oklahomans’ intergenerational struggle for equality. The title comes from a quote by civil rights icon Clara Luper.

“We Believe in the Sun” will open on May 6.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Black Music Honors Feature Legendary Music Icons

2021 Black Music Honors To Celebrate Legendary Music Icons Angie Stone, Ginuwine, Marvin Sapp, Ramsey Lewis, And More In Star-Studded Event Set To Air On Saturday, June 19 In Celebration Of Black Music Month

In recognition and celebration of Black Music Month, Chicago-based television production company Central City Productions will present the 2021 Black Music Honors in commemoration of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated holiday honoring the end of slavery in the United States, which is officially celebrated on June 19th. The evening of celebrations and special moments will be pre-taped at the City Winery in Nashville, Tennessee, and televised in national broadcast syndication starting June 5 to July 4, 2021 and on Saturday, June 19 at 1:00 p.m. EST on Bounce TV.

Emmy® Award-winning talk show host, comedienne and author Loni Love will host the star-studded two-hour special which will honor artists and musicians who have influenced and made significant contributions to American music.

“Now, more than ever, I think it is important to recognize the contributions that Black music has made to the country and the world,” said Loni Love, the host of this year’s Honors. “I am beyond thrilled to host this exciting, inspiring and entertaining show. See y’all at the show wearing my shiny dresses!”

The honorees for this year’s event includes multiple Grammy® Award-nominated R&B legend Angie Stone tapped to receive the Soul Music Icon Award, Grammy® Award-nominated singer, songwriter and actor Ginuwine will receive the Urban Music Icon Award, multiple Stellar Award-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated gospel vocalist Marvin Sapp will receive the Gospel Music Icon Award, and Grammy® Award-winning jazz virtuoso, Ramsey Lewis will receive the Legends Award. The National Museum of African American Music will be honored with the Legacy Award.

Founder and Executive Producer Don Jackson stated, “This is an incredibly exciting time for us. In addition to the amazing honorees and exciting performances this year, we are also announcing that the Black Music Honors will now be held in the month of June. This is an important time for our community as it is officially Black Music Month and our national holiday, Juneteenth. What better way to honor our legacy at this time.”

The commemorative night will also feature exciting musical performances to be announced soon. The 6th Annual Black Music Honors is being sponsored by AT&T, State Farm and GM.

For more information on please visit www.blackmusichonors.com and connect on social media @blackmusichonors.

Black Music Honors is an annual two-hour event that acknowledges the legendary African American artists who have influenced and made significant musical contributions to African American culture and American music worldwide. Produced by Chicago-based production company Central City Productions (CCP) and hosted by Loni Love. For more information visit www.blackmusichonors.com.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

What to Do in Tulsa, Oklahoma, According to Locals

For travelers looking to understand what it means to see “America,” perhaps there’s no better city than one like Tulsa, which is looking forward while reckoning with the legacy of its past.

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Attractions mentioned in this piece may have limited hours or close temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions. Be sure to check respective websites before you travel.

This May, all eyes will again be on Tulsa as the city marks the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921: One hundred years ago, on May 31 and June 1, mobs of white residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attacked Black residents and businesses in the city’s 35-block Greenwood District, once the richest African American neighborhood in North America. The attack is believed to be the single deadliest and most destructive act of racial violence in U.S. history, and its scars are still evident in Oklahoma’s second-largest city, which sits on the Arkansas River. 

It is largely for this anniversary that the city has been placed on myriad Where to Go in 2021 lists, but the racial reckoning following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has reassigned to Tulsa another sense of importance: For travelers looking to understand what it means to see America, perhaps there is no better city than one like Tulsa, which is looking forward while reckoning with the legacy of its past. 

It is not only Tulsa’s past that makes it a worthwile place for travelers to visit. Long called one of the country’s best-kept secrets, the city is known for its art deco architecture, underground arts scene, and better-than-the-coast food and drink. Here, we enlist locals to share the best things to do in the city—and what they want you to know about their home. 

The Black Wall Street mural outside the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Visit the historic Greenwood District

In late 2021, Tulsa will debut the long-awaited Greenwood Rising, a history center that will commemorate the legacy of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. (The Greenwood Cultural Center, though currently closed due to COVID restrictions, is another excellent resource for learning.) On May 28, the new Pathway to Hope walking path—which connects core sites in the district—will be unveiled, and historic landmarks in Greenwood will finally get their dedication plaques. From May through June, the Greenwood Art Project will host a series of exhibits around the district, including Trace from artist Jessica Harvey, who uses paint to mark significant locations in the Greenwood District, and A Century Walk, which invites community members to walk the path that many citizens took the night of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Don’t miss a tour of Historic Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church, which is the only edifice that survived the massacre. 

What locals say:

Rev. Dr. Robert Turner is the pastor of Historic Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church. He has been a Tulsa resident since 2017.

“When I give tours of the church, I like to share that we have been blessed by the legacy of members who have persevered through the worst of times. I like to show people the basement room, which is the only thing we have on Greenwood Avenue that survived the race massacre of 1921. 

“I’m also a commissioner for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. It has been one of the joys of my life to work on remembering the history and the legacy of Black Wall Street. It’s sacred work to help commemorate this terrible event in a way that’s hopefully in good remembrance of the ancestors who were killed here. And sometimes that’s trying, because you can’t do them fully justice by just having a commemoration.

“I wish that visitors to Tulsa would understand that where they’re coming, Greenwood, is not just a tourist site. It’s still a crime scene that’s never been adjudicated. And it needs to be. Justice still has not been served.”

The Gilcrease Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections about the history of North America.

Learn about the areas first residents

In 1836, the first significant settlements in Tulsa and the surrounding area were made by the Creek and Cherokee tribes, according to the Tulsa Preservation Commission, whose mission is to safeguard Tulsa’s architectural and cultural heritage. Today, three tribal boundaries converge in Tulsa: those of the Cherokee Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the Osage Nation. 

To learn more about Cherokee culture, visit the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, which is about an hour east of Tulsa and has a living history village. Nearly the same distance from Tulsa, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee is packed with one-of-a-kind art and artifacts celebrating Native American life. In Tulsa proper, the Gilcrease Museum, spread across 475 acres, has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of western American art, showcasing everything from Navajo rugs to American Indian artwork. 

What locals say:

Jennifer Loren is the director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content and the creator, executive producer, and host of the television program “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People.” She attended middle and high school in Tulsa and has lived in the city since 2005.

“You can’t talk about Tulsa without including the tribes. But to truly understand Native cultures, we have to get out of the mindset that you have to go to a museum to learn about them. We are not a people of the past. Our tribal people are part of this community, just like everyone else. And so my suggestion for learning about the tribes here is to seek out specific tribes and what they have going on. If you want to learn about the Cherokee Nation, visit our visitors center, which we have in Tulsa. Same goes for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Osage Nation. 

“Every Labor Day weekend we celebrate the Cherokee national holiday in Tahlequah, and it’s like a homecoming. Everyone is invited to be among Cherokee nation citizens and our artisans, and we have a big powwow that everyone is invited to. In a non-COVID world, we have hundreds, maybe thousands of people who come to that powwow.”

The Boxyard was inspired by a similar London-based project.

Support homegrown businesses

In an effort to support hometown eateries, shops, sports teams, and businesses, Oklahoma’s Keep It Local program rewards consumers for doing just that: With the purchase of a $15 card, visitors to Tulsa receive a number of discounts at participating businesses, from 10 percent off all food and drink at Lone Wolf Banh Mi to a buy-one-get-one-free ticket for a Tulsa Oilers hockey game. The Boxyard, a collection of repurposed shipping containers in downtown Tulsa, is home to nearly 20 small businesses, from ice cream to a specialized science store that sells fossils, trinkets, and lab equipment.

Each year, TulsaPeople magazine also publishes its list of Black-owned businesses, which are organized by type (arts and entertainment,” goods,” etc.) and include hours, addresses, websites, and contact information; another resource is the Tulsa Black Owned Business Network.

What locals say:

Onikah Asamoa-Caesar is the founder of Fulton Street Books & Coffee, which she opened in July 2020. It is the only Black-owned bookstore in Tulsa. Asamoa-Caesar moved to Tulsa in 2013 as a Teach for America Corps member.

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“Tulsa is a very segregated city. As a teacher who taught Black and brown children, it was often very challenging for me to find books that reflected them. For someone who loved books as a child, seeing my students not be interested in the books and the things that were being presented was a revelation: I realized that everything I was putting in front of them denied their existence, denied the existence of the culture of their families, of their communities, of their languages. And so I had to be very intentional about seeking out books that reflected them. For Fulton Street, I wanted to be that space that when children walked in—that right when adults walked in—they saw themselves reflected. 

“I want visitors to know that Black Tulsa is here. There’s a Black entrepreneurial community and the spirit of Black Wall Street that is here. One of my concerns as a Black person living in Tulsa is that this attention is going to be used in ways that don’t put money back into the Black economy. So I want people that are coming here to learn more about the history of 1921 to be very intentional about where they spend their time and their dollars. If you frequent places that are not owned by Black folks or descendants, what have you done for that history? What have you done for the present? What have you done in terms of supporting Black futures in Tulsa?” 

Outside the Woody Guthrie Center, which holds the artist’s archives

Discover the (new) Tulsa sound

J.J. Cale. Charlie Wilson. Hanson. What do all three musical acts have in common? Tulsa. And while Cale is no longer alive and Hanson and Wilson are touring less than they used to, Tulsa remains fertile ground for musical talent: On any given night, you can check out country western at Cain’s Ballroom (which has been a destination since 1924 and hosted greats like Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams), free live jazz at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, or one of the 30 major annual performances from the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra

For a dive into the past, Dylan fans will want to head straight to the new-as-of-2021 Bob Dylan Archive at the University of Tulsa, which comprises 6,000 items, including writings, memorabilia, and recordings. And though famous folksinger Woody Guthrie was born one hour south of Tulsa, in Okemah, his archives are also in Tulsa, housed in the Woody Guthrie Center, which bills itself as a repository for Woody’s writings, art, and songs.” The completed renovation of Leon Russell’s Church Studio—which saw everyone from Eric Clapton to Stevie Wonder record inside the former Episcopal church—is slated for late 2021, when it will once again be open to visitors. 

What locals say:

Rossitza Goza has been playing with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra since 2006, the orchestra’s inaugural season. A native of Bulgaria, she now commutes twice a week to Tulsa, where she is the TSO’s concertmaster.

“If you come to hear us in concert, you will be impressed by how many string players there are on stage. This is necessitated partly by our concert venue, the 2,500-seat Performing Arts Center, but having a sizable string section also represents the original vision for the orchestra to have a big and lush string sound. After a decade and a half, I still get quite a thrill every time I walk on stage as the leader of so many capable musicians.

“Some of the most versatile and accomplished players with whom I absolutely love working are members of the Tulsa Symphony. But our orchestra is special not just because of the wonderful musicians who comprise it, but because of our unique musician-integrated model. We do have an administration, which is essential for the functioning of the orchestra, but the musicians are involved in all artistic decisions, from personnel to repertoire, to choice of conductors and soloists.”

The Gathering Place offers free boat rentals to visitors.

Celebrate the great outdoors

Tulsa has one of the most extensive park systems in the country, with 135 parks covering roughly 8,652 acres. Its pride and joy? The Gathering Place, a $465 million riverfront park that opened in 2018 and was deemed Best City Park in the Country by USA Today in 2021. Spread across 100 acres, it includes lawns, ponds, public sculpture, sports courts, a skate park, interactive water cannons and fountains, a swing perched atop a 56-foot hill, and kayak, canoe, and paddleboat rentals. 

A few miles outside of downtown, visitors will find the reaches of Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, which sprawls over 300 acres and includes two large ponds, miles of dirt trails, thick canopies of trees, and the eponymous Turkey Mountain. 

Twenty minutes outside of Tulsa is the Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, which is focused on the preservation and protection of unique plant and animal life in the area. Its intricate trail system offers access to the surrounding forests, fields, and wetlands. 

What locals say:

Tony Moore was the executive director of the Gathering Place until April 2021, when he relocated to Dallas to become the president and CEO of Trinity Park Conservancy. He is originally from Jamaica.

“I moved to Tulsa from Tampa two and a half years before the park was built, and saw that the race massacre of 1921 created a lot of scars that are still being felt. So going into the Gathering Place, we knew that it would not be a magical park that was going to fix everything. But we wanted the Gathering Place to be a place for everyone. Where all cultures would be welcomed, embraced. We were intentional with the name the Gathering Place.

“We draw on our different demographics by working with the community and creating programs. We have events for the Latino community, events for the African American community, events for the Native American community, events for the Asian American community. We’re not saying this is an exclusive event. Everyone is welcome. And when you plan these events and execute them, it’s awesome to overhear someone say, ‘I didn’t realize Tulsa had so much diversity.’  

“I’m always careful to say that the Gathering Place is not the silver bullet that solves anything. We’re just a location that, perhaps, will help to bring the community a little closer. And I’m also clear in saying, in our limited existence so far, that by no means are we claiming that we have completed this task. It will take time. But we have a platform.

“I see a city of Tulsa that’s trying hard to recover. I see a city that’s learning to embrace this past where it wasn’t always. You can argue it is still not enough, and it’s still not where it needs to be by any measure. But I see sincere efforts.”

Marshall Brewing was the first craft beer brewery in Tulsa.

Nerd out over the craft beer scene

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Brew-loving hop-hounds could not fare much better than the walkable Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, which is east of downtown, west of the University of Tulsa, and a snapshot of Tulsa’s greater craft beer culture. Here, visitors will find Marshall Brewing Company, Tulsa’s first craft brewery; it is focused on German lagers and German-style beers. Down the street is American Solera, a smaller, trendier niche brewer known for limited beers. From there, you can head next door to Cabin Boys Brewery for Belgian ales, or stroll to Heirloom Rustic Ales for farmhouse ales with an artisanal spin. Nothing’s Left and Renaissance Brewing are also nearby. Stretch your legs between suds, or hop aboard a Pearl Brewery tour, which offers standard daily driving tours to microbreweries and can be fully booked for parties.

What locals say:

Eric Marshall is a fourth-generation Tulsan. After attending the University of Tulsa, Marshall apprenticed as a brewer in Munich, Germany, where he received an International Diploma in Brewing Technology from the World Brewing Academy. In 2008, he founded Marshall Brewing Company.

“When we started almost 13 years ago, there were about 1,500 craft breweries in the country, and now there’s close to 10,000, so I always joke that we started about 8,000 breweries ago. We spent a couple years getting bottles on shelves, getting established, and then started with legislative efforts to make some changes.

“We went from a couple of craft breweries to 30 or 40 now in Oklahoma. You started to see a lot of breweries pop up and decide to locate right near us. At the onset you think, man, this is kind of interesting. Why is someone going to open a brewery right next door to us? That’s a little bit crazy. In fact, what it did was helped create a district where we’ve seen foot traffic increase considerably, where people want to come and hang out and bounce around to different breweries.

“Everybody does something a little different, and it’s amazing to be able to walk down the street and have a world-class beer at several different breweries. At the end of the day, most people in the craft beer industry are beer lovers first and got into this because they are interested in the art and the craft behind it. And to be able to go experience someone else’s iteration has been really cool for me, because we were the only show in town for a long time.

Work from Black Moon artists exhibited at Living Arts Tulsa

Tour top museums and underground galleries 

In addition to a whole arts district packed with theaters, performance venues, and striking street art, Tulsa has no shortage of world-class art museums. Among them? The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, the Tulsa Art Deco Museum, and the Philbrook Museum of Art, which is set within a 1920s villa that once belonged to an oil tycoon. 

To learn more about local art, check out the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition; for more than 30 years, it has operated an independent gallery dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art by artists at all stages in their careers. Another nonprofit, 108 Contemporary, is housed a restored 1920s building and dedicated to showcasing and advancing the work of contemporary fine craft like knitting. 

What locals say:

Elizabeth Henley is a Tulsa native whose family has lived in the city for generations. In 2018, she founded Black Moon, a collective for Black artists.

“The local talent still feels, to me, to be very underground. They are the true innovators. I believe that local artists sense this lack of support from these larger art institutions. The artists have still prevailed and stepped up anyway. We’ve started to build the spaces for our art to have a prominent place on our own walls. We’re telling our stories and not avoiding the pain and destruction that has been hidden for so long, unlike our own Tulsa history. We’re elevating each other in our individual crafts.

“I knew that Black Moon was something that I wanted to create for Black artists like me who needed support and accountability. It helped that I already knew some local Black artists who felt displaced like me in our art scene. As local artists who live and work within Tulsa, we weren’t given the same opportunities or platforms to show our work. It felt like the city was moving and investing in institutions and artists to showcase from out of state, but there wasn’t a clear space made for us locals. It felt like we were being excluded not only for being local, but it proved to be even more difficult to break into the art scene as an artist of color. Black Moon was created to showcase all of this amazing local talent, while also highlighting and holding it down for Black art.”

A mural at Mother Road Market, Tulsa’s first food hall

Dine on award-winning food 

In late 2018, Tulsas first food hall, Mother Road Market, opened right off of the famed Route 66 replete with merch and a variety of food stalls—Brazilian fare at Doctor Kustom, artisanal breads and pastries from Tulsa mainstay Farrell Bread and Bakery, and handcrafted, small-batch scoops in flavors like raspberry habanero and honeycomb lavender from ice cream purveyor Big Dipper Creamery.

Other favorites: Chimera Cafe for all-day soups and salads, Sisserous Caribbean Restaurant and Catering for stewed oxtail, Wanda J’s for southern-style fried chicken, Tortilleria De Puebla for tacos with freshly made tortillas, and Leon’s Smoke Shack BBQ for tender beef brisket and spare ribs. (If you’re not eating well in Tulsa, the joke goes, you’re doing something wrong.) 

For a more formal sit-down experience centered around local Oklahoma produce, make time for FarmBar, which offers a 10-course tasting menu with ingredients sourced largely from the chefs nearby farm. Oren, in the citys Brookside neighborhood, also prides itself on being fruit and vegetable focused, as does Amelia’s, which specializes in wood-fired cuisine and is located across from the Woody Guthrie Center.

What locals say:

Lisa Becklund is a 2020 James Beard semifinalist and the chef and owner of downtown Tulsa’s FarmBar restaurant, as well as Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy near Depew, Oklahoma. Originally from Seattle, she has lived in Oklahoma since 2005.

Tulsa has offered me vast opportunity. In the ‘school-of-hard-knocks’ kind of way, it’s made me respect and pay attention to the weather and the world around me. As a chef and a grower I’ve had to learn a lot from my mistakes. On the other hand, one of the most life-affirming elements of moving here and starting a farm and restaurant is exactly that I had the opportunity to respect and pay attention to the weather and the world around me. It’s made me a better chef and I hope, a better human.

“FarmBar is a place people can have an extremely indulgent, intimate dining experience that literally worships the ground it stands on. Our primary focus has always been what we call agricultural cuisine of Oklahoma. Taking local ingredients and preparing them in a way that allows the ingredients to shine in an artistic, modern, clean, and delicious way.

“Tulsa is hungry for fresh flavors that also include a type of Oklahoma pride for all the amazing farmers and producers we are home to. We’re well on our way to being compared to Kansas City, Austin, Portland, and Seattle.

>> Next: The Most Surprising Cities in the United States

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For artists of color, a new residency creates a pipeline to leadership

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation is expected to announce Tuesday a new residency program that will pair Minneapolis-based director Shá Cage with Los Angeles’ Cornerstone Theater Company, and Bay Area director Elizabeth Carter with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Named after the late Tony Award winner who was the first Black person to be nominated for best director, the inaugural Lloyd Richards New Futures Residencies are meant to create a leadership pathway for midcareer directors and choreographers of color. In addition to a yearlong partnership with Cornerstone and OSF, Cage and Carter each will receive a $40,000 grant and health insurance.

Richards, a five-time Tony contender whose historic nomination came in 1960 for “A Raisin in the Sun,” was a founding member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the organization’s president from 1970 to 1980. He serves as a model of a Black artist becoming a leader in theater, said his son Scott, a composer and librettist who was part of the residency’s selection committee.

Scott Richards said his dad “became an artistic director, who became a producer, and through that position and through those skills, was actually able to really affect change, and create an environment where people like August [Wilson] were able to come up and come through.”

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Through the residency, Cage will work with Cornerstone’s artistic director, Michael John Garcés, and will be embedded in the theater’s development process, which involves creating works in partnership with communities underserved by the performing arts. Carter will be mentored by Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, joining the organization’s leadership as a lead artist on its digital platform and helping to plan its return to live, in-person performances.

The spark for the residency began more than five years ago when the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a labor union formed more than 60 years ago, began hearing stories from members about the challenges of sustaining a career as a director or choreographer.

In 2019 the union, in partnership with its charitable arm, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, launched a two-year, three-phase survey focused on members’ career trajectories, income sources, the impact of COVID-19 and the racial reckoning within the arts. After surveying 683 members during the first phase of the survey and 791 during the second phase, the organization found that midcareer directors and choreographers — defined as those with 15 to 30 years of experience — lacked the financial security and creative opportunities they needed to stay in the field.

According to the midcareer artists surveyed, only 17% of their income comes from practicing their craft. Further analysis showed midcareer women and midcareer artists of color were rarely given access to high-profile projects. And artists of color were almost twice as likely not to have health insurance.

Last July, the foundation formed a committee to design the annual residency, and as a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, reserved its inaugural year for Black artists.

Cornerstone was one of 22 theaters that responded to the call for submissions and later participated in selecting Cage to join the organization’s staff. For Garcés, the residency was an opportunity to work with an experienced director who was also passionate about community-based work.

Although numerous fellowships and opportunities exist for emerging artists, Garcés said, midcareer directors often hit a crucial and often vulnerable point professionally. “The problem happens once you’ve accrued a little bit of momentum and made a little bit of a name for yourself, and you’re not the new thing,” Garcés said. Maintaining that career progression is difficult.

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“It can be particularly vulnerable for BIPOC directors, and also for women, because the networks — and that’s changing — but the networks tend to be white men. And so it can be challenging to make that transition to a place where you have more stability,” he added.

Cage, who is in her early 40s, has been directing community-based work for more than 10 years. During the yearlong residency, she plans to split her time between Minneapolis and L.A. The residency represents an opportunity to forge deeper connections with artists outside of Minneapolis. “There’s limited opportunities for really sharpening and training, for national mentorship and collaboration,” Cage said.

At Cornerstone, Cage will join the senior artistic staff, attending board and ensemble meetings to help solve problems and make decisions about projects and community engagement. She has a commitment from the theater to stage a work.

In addition to fine tuning her directing skills, Cage said she’s “curious about the financial side of running a theater, and the politics of survival.” As an artist who is “self-driven” and has not spent significant time working inside a theater company, the residency also represents a chance to revisit a past goal.

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“When I was younger, one of my hopes and dreams was actually to run my own theater. And I think a combination of realizing how hard it is actually for American theater institutions to survive, but particularly Black ones, and the lack of support that I had noticed — I just thought, well, that’s not where I want to be,” Cage said.

“But I think it’s always been in a place in my heart.”

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Let’s Talk Art: Abstract Artist Nanette Carter

Nanette Carter (b. 1954), an artist with work in the Parrish exhibition “Affinities for Abstraction,” teaches at Pratt Institute and began coming to Sag Harbor in her youth after her parents bought a home in Sag Harbor Hills.

Q: As a female Abstract painter, did you face hurdles regarding acceptance and respect in what was initially a male-dominated field?

All African American artists who work in the Abstract vein have had difficulties. I have triple jeopardy — I’m an Abstract artist, a woman and I’m Black. It’s so exciting, in this show I’m hanging between Dorthea Rockburne and Mary Abbot and right across from Joan Mitchell, who I’ve been looking at since I was in college. I’m 67, so that was a long time ago.

Q: Your family had a home in Sag Harbor beginning in the early 1970s. How did this area influence your growth?

I grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, but I think being around the galleries and seeing these artists working in the Abstract vein was a big influence. I was working with Abstraction when i was very young. My first studio was in my bedroom. Being in the Hamptons and knowing I wanted to be in the arts, I went to the Parrish Art Museum. I love Fairfield Porter’s work. I’d also go to Guild Hall and see lots of Pollocks and de Koonings — male artists are celebrated all the time. I got a job in the Guild Hall ticket booth in college, so I’d go to the openings and was always the only Black person in the room. At one opening, I saw this tall Black man and went up to talk to him. It was [artist] Al Loving. He had rented a space in a theater in Southampton and was doing a performance piece, and invited me to come and meet many other people.

Not only did I work at Guild Hall that summer, when I finished at Pratt, Guild Hall hired me to teach a monotype class for adults. It was all painters who wanted to learn the different technique and I made so many great friends and then I did a show at Guild Hall — the Eastville Artists, a group of African American artists — and Al Loving curated the show. Then Hans Namuth was asked to curate a Parrish anniversary show and I had a fairly large painting in that.

Q: What other artists on the East End had an influence on you?

My mentor from Sag Harbor was Frank Wimberley. Frank lived down the street from my parents and Al Loving fell in love with Sag Harbor when I brought him to the Black community on the bay. They were wonderful, gracious people. Not all artists are giving of their time and their works.

Q: Did Montclair also provide support for you?

Montclair schools were very advanced. They had a dark room, potters wheels, kilns, oil paints. I did linoleum cuts in elementary school and we had a small table top press. The teachers were incredible. Being in Montclair and Sag Harbor, the two communities did influence the work.

Q: What about the East End inspires your work?

For me, it was the landscape. I was a block away from the bay, I rolled out of bed and went down the street and there I was. You can see how I took from nature to talk about different ideas. A lot of my work also speaks of social issues of the time. “Cantilevered,” my recent works which are a bit more architectural for me, talks about balancing information with what’s going on in social media and seeing things as they happen. As someone born in the ’50s we moved at a slower pace. I’m working seven days a week now. But I’ve been teaching at Pratt for 20 years, and I’m retiring. I’ve really enjoyed the students, but I’m ready to get back full-time in the studio. I have a five-week residency in Siena, Italy, on June 1. I got both my vaccines and I’m hoping to do some other residencies like Yaddo and MacDowell. Being retired will open up a lot more time to travel.

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Cleveland-Based Director Terrence Spivey To Teach at Pa. College This Fall

Theater director Terrence Spivey blew into Cleveland from New York like a hurricane in 2003, and restored the tattered reputation of the historic Black theater at Karamu House. In his 13 years there, he mounted thought-provoking and groundbreaking productions, encouraged the careers of local playwrights and actors, and guided it into its 100thanniversary in 2015 as a place to watch. He also continued to network with Black cultural and theater organizations outside Cleveland to “re-educate people about Karamu,” as he put it a few years ago.

Although he left Karamu in 2016 due to cost-cutting measure, he’s still a zealous promoter of its history and its role in Black arts and culture. He was recently hired by Allegheny College in northwestern Pennsylvania to spend the fall semester there as a visiting professor to teach a course in Karamu’s history and role in Black theater, the Black Arts Movement, and social justice in the arts today.  He’ll also be directing a production (yet unchosen) there in November. No, he’s not leaving Cleveland — just continuing his usual outreach. Among other things on his plate is the presentation of two works at Cleveland’s Borderlight Festival in July.

In fact, Spivey seems incapable of not having multiple projects going on. When he left Karamu in 2016, he was immediately in demand to direct at theaters around the region, including convergence-continuum, Ensemble, John Carroll University and Playwrights Local, for which he directed the unforgettable Objectively/Reasonable: A Community Response to the Shooting of Tamir Rice, which had two runs and an excerpt performed on NPR. Early last year — slipping into the calendar just before the pandemic — he directed a production about the history of slavery at Oliver Institutional Baptist Church with a large cast of mostly amateur performers. He’s also found time to start his own company, Powerful Long Ladder.

Recently, he produced and directed a short experimental film called Resurrection of a Black Man in 8:46. It’s based on the story of the 1933 lynching of a wrongfully accused man in his hometown of Kountze, Texas. He’d been mulling it over for a while, but George Floyd’s murder spurred him into action. He worked with Cleveland photographer Jennifer Hearn to create the haunting, poetic imagery. It’s now making the rounds of film festivals around the country.

To keep up with what he’s up to — if you’ve got the energy — go to Powerful-Long-Ladder.

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