National Black Arts Festival 2023 Event Guide

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2023 Official NBAF Event Guide

2023 EVENT GUIDE FEATURES Director’s Letter A Call To Art Thank You to Our Sponsors NBAF Board & Staff
HIGHLIGHTS Fine Art + Fashion Black History Month Artist Project Fund Black Music Month Art Academy Move/Dance! NextGen Artist Fashion Forward Horizon Awards 2023 GALA 4 6 30 31 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 The Official 2023 NBAF Event Guide Published by Gregg Daugherty, Atlanta ShowGuide Inc. Designed by Kellie Frissell, KFD&P Cover photo by Kim Evans Photos @nbaf | @nbafreimagined @nbafreimagined


Hello! As NBAF’s Executive Director, it is my honor to bring you greetings on behalf of NBAF’s Board of Directors, Staff and Community. We are so excited to be in our 35th year of providing engaging programming to the Atlanta community in alignment with our mission to expose, educate, engage, and entertain audiences as we present and support the art and artists of African descent. We continue to remain steadfast and dedicated to this work, evolving with the needs of our community while consistently creating with excellence. NBAF has a tremendous legacy of providing excellent artistic and educational programming across music, dance, theater, film, visual and literary arts, showcasing talented Black artists who create, innovate, and produce extraordinary work. We are honored to build upon this legacy in 2023 and we are committed to innovatively presenting the best in Black art in innovative ways.

NBAF seeks to ensure that the art and stories of Black people are increasingly highlighted and valued as we help shape a more equitable and impactful arts ecosystem. By remaining focused on our mission and through your continued support, we’ve been able to highlight the impact Black art has made on our world in transformative ways, and we continue in this effort through our three main programming pillars: engaging youth arts education programs, relevant artistic development opportunities for emerging artists and quality public programs for the community. This year, as we transition back to larger scaled, festival style events, and establish annual Black History Month and Black Music Month programs, we remain focused on presenting the best in Black art in innovative ways and look forward to continuing to make an impact in the community with your partnership.

NBAF’s 2023 theme is “A Call to Art” and we are centering this in the idea that a call to art, is a call to action. Join us this year and support Black art by attending upcoming NBAF events, donating to NBAF programming and enjoying this artistic content as we continue to purposefully and meaningfully celebrate Black art that inspires and creates the change that we want to see in the world.

For the love of art,

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At NBAF, we believe that art is not just about creating beauty, it’s a call to address the issues of the day in new and creative ways.

Art has the power to incite change in the world and in the individual. Beyond creating what may seem frivolous to some, we look to art to inspire and energize us as we face our daily struggles. It is its own form of evolution, encouraging us to be better and do better than we have been or than has been done to us. It calls us to find creative solutions to the problems we face as a people and a nation.

As the vanguard organization promoting and presenting the best in Black art, NBAF is always striving to innovate in the field, to find creative solutions to the obstacles that we face, and to present our work in ways that set the standard.

NBAF’s 2023 theme, A Call to Art is a Call to Action, seeks to guide us as we create year round artistic programming that exposes, educates, engages and entertain audiences through immersive artistic experiences. The theme centers NBAF moving forward

together with our community, and evolving with the needs of our people to consistently create with excellence as we stand on the 35 year legacy of NBAF. Black Art has always been our call to action!

Help NBAF answer the call by contributing $35 to help us reach our $35,000 annual individual donation goal! Your support helps sustain NBAF’s year-round, high quality public programs, youth focused initiatives and artist grant and professional development opportunities — enabling thousands of people around the country to experience the transformative power of Black art.

For more info or to donate, please visit:

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EXPLORE BLACK HISTORY and ART in DECATUR Pan African Festival August 19
See what’s happening this week! Public Art • History Great Food • Fun VISITORS CENTER • 113 Clairemont Ave. Decatur 30030 COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT • 130 Clairemont Ave. HAMPTON INN & SUITES • 116 Clairemont Ave. Dining on the Square MAKE IT A STAY } “MLK in Decatur”
“What Sonia Said” by Ellex Swavoni

On Thursday, April 20th at the Atlanta History Center, NBAF’s 17th Annual Fine Art + Fashion benefit raised funds to support NBAF’s youth arts education programs for underserved students of African descent.

Sponsored by Neiman Marcus, the exclusive event brought together lovers of art and fashion to celebrate the talent of visual artists, fashion designers, as well as highlight emerging Black designers through the Fashion Forward Student Design Competition.

The recipient of NBAF’s 2023 “Living Legend” award, Ruth E. Carter is a Costume Designer who has brought her skills to more than 60 diverse film and television projects, including Marvel’s Black Panther series.

In 2019, she was honored by the Costume Designers Guild with a Career Achievement Award and by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science with the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. She won her second Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 2023.

The 2023 Fine Art + Fashion honorees also included Visual Artist, Shanequa Gay, and Fashion Designer, Busayo Olupona.

Shanequa Gay is a visual artist primarily known for her surrealist acrylic paintings. Her work evaluates tradition, place, storytelling, and subject matter to develop imaginative dialogues and alternative strategies for self-imaging.

Gay has exhibited her work at prestigious

venues and events, and is among many collections including actor Samuel L. Jackson and the permanent collection for SCAD Hong Kong.

Fashion Designer Busayo Olupona is a powerhouse fashion designer and attorney who has made a name for herself in both fields. She has created a unique and vibrant style that celebrates her Nigerian heritage and fosters dialogue across the Black diaspora.

Busayo’s work has been worn by some of the most influential women of our time, including Madonna, Dr. Angela Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Ms. Alfre Woodard, and Wunmi Mosaku.

NBAF’s 2023 Fashion Forward Student Design Competition winners were junior college students, Jakarie Akhil Whitaker and Yemisi Sanni. They both received a cash prize of $2,000, their work highlighted at NBAF’s Fine Art + Fashion Benefit, and a showcase at Neiman Marcus.

For more info on Fine Art + Fashion, please visit:

Photos by Kim Evans Photos

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An annual event that promotes important Black artists, art movements and art genres, the NBAF Black History Month series focuses on bringing Black art history to life!

Every Black History Month, NBAF will host immersive programming that takes a deep dive into an aspect of African American fine art, placing it squarely into historical context while highlighting the contemporary artists moving the art form forward.

The inaugural NBAF Black History Month program, “The Living Word”, took place on Sunday, February 26th from 11AM to 6:30PM at the Woodruff Arts Center and celebrated the important legacy of African American Theatre through immersive and interactive experiences.

The multi-disciplinary event featured live performances, staged readings, pop-up monologues, interactive exhibitions, video projections, photo timelines, a 3D photo booth, NBAF memorabilia and cash bars!

The kick-off event to NBAF’s Black History Month program, Testify! Sunday Brunch: A Tribute to Black Musical Theatre, was presented by NBAF and the Fulton County Department of Arts & Culture.

Taking place from 11AM - 2PM, this upscale, ticketed celebration featured performances by 2022 Tony Award winner and Atlanta native, Joaquina Kalukango, as well as local and nationally recognized Broadway performers.

The Testify Sunday Brunch, co-sponsored by Fulton

County Department of Art & Culture, also honored Fulton County’s Black women artists, art advocates and icons.

Honorees included Camille Russell Love: Executive Director, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Sue Ross: Photo-Griot, Artist & Cultural Worker, and Alice Lovelace: Poet, Playwright & Executive Director, ArtsXchange.

Immediately following the Sunday Brunch, the general public portion of The Living Word program began!

After exploring the multi-media theatre history exhibitions and enjoying pop-up monologue performances by Spelman and Morehouse drama students, the attendees moved into The Woodruff’s Rich Auditorium for an original production, From The Clay, a theatrical tribute to Atlanta’s pioneering independent Black Theatres.

True Colors Theatre then presented a staged reading of “In the Pocket,” by accomplished playwright Gabrielle Fulton Ponder. The reading featured R&B singer Algebra Blessett alongside a cast of seasoned theatre actors and a live band!

For more info on NBAF’s Black History Month program, visit:

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The NBAF Artist Project Fund (APF) is a $2000 grant and artistic development program for Metro Atlanta artists seeking funds to complete an ongoing project.

APF seeks to support 20 professional artists over a 6-month period in the completion of an artistic project, foster a sense of community and creative collaboration, and provide immersive artistic and career development experiences to help each participant grow as creative entrepreneurs.

The 2023 NBAF Artist Project Fund Cohort includes:

Marryam Moma - @marryammomaart

Jared Shanklin - @_saint.smith_

Chet Andre Henderson - @AndreHenderson7426

Juel D. Lane - @jueldlane

Stephanie Sutton - @lady_krow_, @thetinladyofficial

Olamma Oparah - @olammalamma

Timothy Short - @culturedstruggle

Adana Tillman - @adanadeneiceart

Camisha Butler - @nutellabrownbaby

Logan Burroughs - @logan_lynette

Kenniese Franklin - @telekenniese

Grace Kisa-Evans - @studiokisa

K. Calloway - @kcalloway__

Brandon Moultrie - @johnlasalle_25

Asha Stuart - @ashastuart

Alva Mc Neal

Andre D. Lumpkin - @urb4n.sh4m4n

Adrianna Jackson - @drijackmusic

Nova Black - @novacypressblk

Gibron Shepperd - @gibrondotcom

NBAF encourages the public to visit the artists’ Instagram accounts listed above to learn more about their practice and follow their progress!

NBAF congratulates all of the 2023 Artist Project Fund grant recipients, and is proud to play a part in their artistic and career development!

To learn more about the NBAF Artist Project Fund and other grant opportunities, visit.

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Each June, Black Music Month celebrates the African American musical influences that are an essential part of our nation’s treasured cultural heritage.

The 2023 NBAF Black Music Month program, “Rapper’s Delight: 50 Years of Hip Hop,” will take place on Saturday, June 10th at Westside Paper in Atlanta, GA.

NBAF is pleased to partner with ONE Musicfest, the largest urban progressive music festival in the Southeast, to celebrate one of the worlds most influential Black cultural movements with an immersive event that merges music, technology, art, video installations, and live music to honor 50 years of culture!

The kickoff to Rapper’s Delight, NBAF is excited to host ONE Musicfest’s annual OMF Honors Mixer! The OMF Honors Mixer curated by NBAF is an exclusive awards event for 200 of the city’s industry leaders, celebrities and taste-makers coming together to honor pioneers in Black culture and music.

Utilizing silent disco headphones and immersive video projections on oversized walls, the Rapper’s Delight public program will allow attendees to move through multiple party pods to curate their own party experience!

With a soundtrack by some of Atlanta’s top DJs, each silent disco party pod will immerse attendees in hip hop culture and let them relive their favorite hip hop moments.

Attendees will be able to change the station on their headphones as they move throughout the event to create their own custom hip hop celebration!

This block party style experience will feature:

• The OMF Honors Mixer, curated by NBAF, celebrates pioneers in Black culture and music.

• Live music sets by celebrated DJs taking us through 5 decades of music!

• Silent disco pods of multiple parties going on throughout the space, choose your own adventure style!

• Audio visual exhibitions exploring icon moments, cultural trends and historical figures in hip hop.

• Themed social photo booths.

• The Bodega indie market of hip hop and culture related vendors.

• Sponsor activations, cash bars, and more!

For more info, please visit:

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Expanding on NBAF’s mission to expose, educate, engage and entertain audiences by presenting and supporting the art and artists of African descent, we are excited to announce the creation of our virtual master class series, NBAF Art Academy!

Through the NBAF Art Academy virtual workshop series, NBAF aims to make high level industry knowledge accessible to everyone. Led by some of the top names in Black Arts, the series will feature 60- to 90-minute virtual classes on a variety of topics.

Viewers will receive in-depth knowledge on the different topics and will leave with real world knowledge that they can apply to their respective crafts.


• The Structure of Songwriting

• Dance Choreography for Music Videos

• Photography Lighting Techniques

• The Business of Public Art

• Creating Dynamic Characters for Theater

• Selling your Literature to Publishers

• and more

To learn more about the Art Academy Master Class Series as it becomes available, please sign up on our mailing list at

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The Move/Dance! Program was established by NBAF as part of its Adopt-A-School arts education initiative. It brings much needed dance based arts education back into local Atlanta middle schools. Move/Dance! is an interventionist project because of the focus on improving the health and wellness of the students, and by extension their

families, through fun dance lessons that support movement and exercise.

The Move/Dance! Program, created in 2016, encourages and nurtures the talent and aspirations of middle school students, while supporting the school, parents and guardians with their academic, as well as their health and wellness goals. Through the Move/ Dance! Program, NBAF marries the creative arts with the goal of addressing prevalent health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other conditions that plague our communities.

The Move/Dance! Program utilizes teaching artists who teach various dance forms from the 18th to the 21st centuries. They also teach classroom etiquette and act as mentors and role models. Their lessons are based on a new curriculum on Black dance developed by NBAF to match the Atlanta School system’s curriculum standards and goals. The project also includes a “Create a New Dance” competition that provides scholarships opportunities for students to choreograph their own dance and present it at the final dance performance.

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Three convenient locations:

• Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre in West Midtown

• Buckhead Centre in Chastain Square

• Virginia-Highland in Amsterdam Walk

Register for Fall 2023!


NextGen Artist is a NBAF youth arts education program that aims to nurture the dreams, creativity and artistic talents of high school emerging artists of African descent.

The NBAF NextGen Artist Program provides resources and exposure into the industries of film/media, visual arts, and fashion design for students engaged in the program. The program goals include increased presentation skills (written and verbal), improved academic success, an increased appreciation for the arts, and access to pathways to higher education and careers in the arts.

The program provides a structured artistic experience with workshops, classes, lectures, mentoring, business and professional development, and opportunities for competitive scholarships. This

transformational experience is designed to support the educational goals of our partner schools and the workforce development based curriculum is curated to recognize and nurture the students’ unique talents in diverse creative arts disciplines.

For more info, please visit:

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NBAF’s Fashion Forward program is an annual competition for student & emerging Fashion Designers. Selected by a distinguished panel of judges, NBAF Fashion Forward honorees receive a cash prize of $2,000 and a showcase at Neiman Marcus.

The award is open to students of African descent who are currently enrolled or have recently graduated in an accredited college or university fashion design degree program and possess leadership qualities in their personal life and professional aspirations.

The 2023 NBAF Fashion Forward honorees were presented at NBAF’s Fine Art + Fashion Benefit on Thursday, April 20th at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, GA.

The NBAF Fashion Forward honorees for 2023 are:

• Jakarie Akhil Whitaker is a junior at Clark Atlanta University, studying Fashion Design and Merchandising with a minor in Art and Philosophy. Originally from Flint, Michigan, he is a two-time Virgil Abloh Post-Modern Scholar (2022, 2023) and a Bridge to Basel Finalist (2022).

Whitaker is the Creative Director of the fashion brand Hikari no Yami and aspires to transcend fashion trends by creating wearable art that sparks emotion.

• Yemisi Sanni is a junior at Savannah College of Art and Design, studying Fashion Design, Marketing & Management. Her cross-cultural experiences as a transplant from Lagos, Nigeria have inspired many of her fashion ventures and aesthetics. Sanni is driven to collaborate with others in connecting cultures and using fashion as a tool to shape a more creative, sustainable, and inclusive future. She is currently the Designer/Style Artist for Stylenspire, a fashion brand offering a mix of Chic and AfroContemporary clothing for women, with a focus on delivering quality and uniqueness.

For more info on the NBAF Fashion Forward Competition, please visit:

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Photos by Kim Evans Photos

From Pre-K through 12th grade, creating opportunities for each child to thrive is




NBAF’s Horizon Awards for Emerging Artists seeks to help aspiring emerging artists of African descent in Visual Arts, Music and Film to scale their careers. The award is highly competitive and grants the recipient in each category with a $10,000 awards package to fund their practice.

Winning emerging artists have been working in their respective fields for at least three to seven years, have a proven track record of success, and have dedicated themselves to a career in their field.

The 2022 Horizon Award Winners were:

Ayana Ross is a Georgia native, currently living and working in McDonough and Atlanta, Georgia respectively. Ross received a MA in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design (2021), a MA in Liberal Art from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (2014) and a BS in Design and Merchandising from Georgia Southern University (2000). As a full time artist, Ross has received recognition as the 2021 Bennett Prize winner and is a current Mint Atlanta Leap Year fellow.

Malesha Jessie Taylor is an Atlanta-based vocal artist, songwriter and collaborator. She is also the

Founder of museSalon Collaborative, the recent Curator in Residence with Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. Their recent PolyRhythmiQ Juneteenth Festival featured the premiere of her original song with Salah Ananse, Okorie Johnson and the Atlanta Music Project Youth Choir entitled, “Claiming a Black Future,” which they hope to release and perform this fall with NBAF!

Natrice Miller is a photographer and filmmaker whose personal work focuses on documenting the Black experience in America. Clients and publications include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The United Negro College Fund. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a B.S. in Journalism and Graphic Communication in 2005. In addition to exhibiting photography in Atlanta and The U.S., her short films have shown at The NBAF Resurgence Black Film Festival, Crassh Film Festival in Cambridge, England and Atlanta Contemporary. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and son.

For more info, please visit:

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A place for everybody.

If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere! Clothing for adults and children, shoes, jewelry, electronics, hair and facial products, and so much more. When you’re done styling and profiling, sit down and eat food from home! We got you and we’re not far from you!


The annual NBAF Gala brings together funders and supporters to celebrate and showcase Black art and artists and present high quality Black arts programming that fulfills NBAF’s mission to expose, educate, engage and entertain audiences.

The NBAF Gala, and accompanying Artist Showcase, highlights NBAF’s annual programming and features talented artistic performances by artists from the NBAF community. These events also serve as the official presentation and awards ceremony for the NBAF Horizon Award for Emerging Artist.

The 2023 Gala is taking place on October 7, 2023 at the Southern Exchange Ballroom in downtown Atlanta. The Gala

includes a cocktail reception, a lux dining event, silent auction, live entertainment, an awards ceremony, dancing and more!

The 2022 Gala raised over $300,000 and served over 1000 students through the generous support of donors and corporate sponsors and patrons.

For more info, please visit:

Gala photos by Prince Williams / unless otherwise noted.

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Photo by Prince Williams /
Apply today at! PRE-K3 – GRADE 12 Paramount Consulting Group continues to support the NBAF platform in creating a legacy of providing stellar artistic and educational programs in music, dance, lm, visual arts, theater and literary arts.  404-341-7272
2023 NBAF Event Guide 28 2023 NBAF GALA
Photo by Prince Williams / Photo by Kimberly Evans Photo by Kimberly Evans Photo by Prince Williams / Photo by Prince Williams /
Plan a Perfect Evening at a VanTrece Hospitality Group Restaurant Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours 1133 Hu Road Suite D | Atlanta, GA 30318 | 404-350-5500 | Oreatha’s @ The Point 2287 Cascade Road SW Unit C Atlanta, GA 30311 | 404-228-4852 La Panarda Italiano Restaurante 2317 Cascade Road SW Unit C Atlanta, GA 30311 | 404-343-1342


NBAF thanks our 2023 sponsors for their continued support of impactful Black arts programming. We are able to celebrate 35 years of quality artistic programming due in large part to their unwavering support.

Interested in becoming a sponsor?

NBAF offers high visibility sponsorship opportunities with multiple tiers of sponsor benefits that include on-site interactive activations, brand recognition at special events, and inclusion in organizational and event collateral and online promotional outlets.

To discuss event sponsorship and corporate donation opportunities, please visit:

Major funding is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.

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Tracey Lloyd

Board Chair

Vice President and General Manager Starboard, LVMH

Lisa Bonner, Esq. Board Vice Chair Managing Attorney Bonner Law, PC

Lisa Griffin Board Treasurer

Sr. Vice President, Finance Warner Bros. Discovery

Danica Kombol

Board Secretary

Chief Marketing Strategist Chameleon Collective

Pamela Bishop Chief Innovation Officer Airacobra Development

Shaunya Chavis-Rucker

Division Director Fulton Films Office

Jennifer Christian Software Quality Manager


Seth Freeman

Vice President, Marketing and Communications BlueLinx Corporation

Nikki Tinsley Harland COO

Paradies Lagardere

Kateau James COO Deloitte Technology

Derek Johnson Media Personality and Celebrity Hair Stylist The J Spot Salon

Felicia McDade Business Development Executive Sales Force

Stephanie Owens * Registered Agent Executive Director Registered Agent EX-OFFICIO

Chris Sizemore Chief Executive Officer Incisive

Theia Smith Director of the Innovative Inclusion Team PricewaterhouseCoopers

Carole Irene Sykes

Public Affairs

Georgia Public Defender Council

Angela Watts

10 Squared Agency / RAGTRADE ATLANTA


Stephanie Owens Executive Director

Oronike Odeleye

Artistic Director

Kerri Garrett Youth Programs Assistant Director – NextGen Artist

Krystal Odom Youth Programs Assistant Director – Move/Dance

Judy Hanenkrat Special Events & Fundraising

Page Yang

Administrative Assistant


Nancy Boxill, PhD., former NBAF Board Chair

Lolita Browning Jackson, Founding Principal, 4 C’s Consulting LLC, Former NBAF Board Chair

Suzanne E. Burks, former NBAF Board Chair, Executive Director of Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

Evern Cooper Epps, former NBAF Board Chair

Curley Dossman, President, Georgia Pacific Foundation, former NBAF Board Chair

Sonya Halpern, Georgia State Senator and former NBAF Board Chair

Camille Love, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, former NBAF Board member

Ingrid Saunders Jones, former NBAF Board Chair

Charmaine Ward- Millner, Kaiser Permanente, Vice President of Marketing, Communications, Community Relations, former NBAF Board Chair

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