Mission: To create and enhance an awareness and understanding of artistic, cultural, and aesthetic differences through the lens of African, African-American, and Caribbean arts and letters.
About the Organization: Founded in 1977, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters works to promote, cultivate, foster, preserve, and perpetuate the work of African, African-American, and Caribbean artists in the fields of literature, the fine arts, performing arts, visual arts, and cinema. The organization grew out of the American Negro Academy, which was established in 1897 by Alexander Crummell to publish scholarly works, foster higher education, shape and inform intellectual tastes, and promote literature, science, and art by and among African Americans, as well as defend them against violence and assaults. Decades after ANA ceased to exist as an organization, a group of poets, historians, dancers, essayists, musicians, dramatists, novelists, actors, journalists, scholars, and painters came together to revive it as the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, with its early members including such luminaries as Alvin Ailey, James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, Adelaide Cromwell Hill, Duke Ellington, Alex Haley, Lena Horne, Jacob Lawrence, and Nina Simone. The organization was succeeded by the Dallas-based Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1977 and subsequently was rebranded as the Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL).
Current Programs: TBAAL produces more than a hundred public programs a year, including concerts, musicals, dance festivals, plays, comedy, poetry and spoken word slams, film festivals, and roundtable discussions. The organization's education programs include the Young Gifted Black Artists program, which provides local youth with exceptional talent in the performing arts with opportunities to participate in public events; and the Summer Youth Arts Institute, which provides intensive three-week workshops to Dallas Independent School District middle and high school students in which they receive training in music, dance, theater, stage management, lighting, costume photography, film or video, sound, and/or makeup. TBAAL also offers workshops and master classes in jazz and dance.
Website: Visitors to the organization's site can learn about ANA and TBAAL's history; browse agallery of artists and scholars who have been involved with and had their careers launched by TBAAL; check out a program calendar or sign up for the Summer Youth Arts Institute. They also can support TBAAL by becoming a member or by making a donation.
Funding: The Black Academy of Arts and Letters is funded by members, foundations, corporations, and individuals.