SARASOTA, FL – In an effort to share knowledge and resources, and strengthen the infrastructure of the Black theatre landscape in the United States, seven of the country’s freestanding, independent Black theatres – including Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) – have forged a new alliance. The National Association of Black Theatre Building Owners (NABTBO) will work together to ensure there are stages where Black voices take center stage and are heard by diverse audiences.
Currently, the members of NABTBO include: WBTT; The Arena Players in Baltimore, Md.; The Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago, Ill.; The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Tex.; eta Creative Arts Foundation in Chicago, Ill.; Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, Tenn.; and National Black Theatre in New York City. These entities were first brought together by Chuck Smith, award-winning national theatre director (and resident director at WBTT), who urged them to collaborate.
Leaders at these theatres have committed to being a conduit for creating strategies and building platforms to benefit Black theatre as a holistic community. The goal is to increase interaction and communication while strengthening the Black theatre community on a national level.
“The distinction between our spaces and the varied Black theatre companies, festivals and collegiate programs that are responsible for the consistent amplification of Black voices is measured solely in brick and mortar,” said WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “The latter community can assist Black playwrights as they develop and stage their work in spaces that mirror their cultural perspective and background. Our theatres provide spaces where diverse audiences can regularly enjoy the results of these artistic endeavors.”
While Black stories and storytellers are plentiful, ensuring they are told and heard requires a permanent home. NABTBO theatres are committed to serving as the conduit to help Black artists’ careers to flourish, while working to help spread their voices to diverse audiences across the U.S.
In the 1960s, the Black Arts Movement prompted the need for culturally specific institutions dedicated to providing consistent employment and internship opportunities for Black artists. Today, the member-theatres of NABTBO are moving forward, ensuring that the Black Arts Movement is alive and well and living in their ‘houses’ while spotlighting, maintaining, and strengthening the Black aesthetic of then, now and tomorrow.
For more information, call WBTT at 941-366-1505 or visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. For more information, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.