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MN Black Theatre Circle to Produce BLACKNESS IS… Arts Festival

The theater-inspired arts festival, presented in partnership with the Guthrie Theater, seeks Minnesota Black artists from all mediums to apply.

MN Black Theatre Circle to Produce BLACKNESS IS… Arts Festival

MN Black Theatre Circle, in partnership with the Guthrie Theater, today announced it is accepting artist applications for Blackness Is..., a theater-inspired arts festival that will celebrate Black voices and empower Black liberation in locations throughout the Twin Cities May 21a?'23, 2021. The festival is expected to showcase theater, dance, music, poetry and spoken word as well as salon-style conversations with the community. To submit an artist application, visit www.blacknessis.com.

Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Artistic Director Joseph Haj reached out to a multigenerational group of Black theater artists in the Twin Cities to navigate how to respond to the moment, beyond a letter of solidarity, and gather feedback and insight before moving forward as an institution. Since August 2020, meetings and working sessions between this group, newly named the MN Black Theatre Circle, and the Guthrie have continued with an aim toward supporting the artists' goals and generating greater equity and inclusion within the Guthrie.

"We are a circle of artists looking for ways to honor our rich legacy, share our present stories and imagine a brighter future," said MN Black Theatre Circle. "Our hearts and our ears are open as we work to establish pathways to healing, empowerment and building a stronger community. We believe that sharing representations of all aspects of Black life is key to accomplishing this."

"When George Floyd was killed, I wanted the Guthrie to set the microphone down and be in conversation with Black artists in our community," said Haj. "Their reflections, criticisms and personal experiences shaped the path forward we have chosen together. There is no single project, idea or initiative that will solve racism at the Guthrie or in our society. This work is designed to be the first step toward building a deeper connection with a community we have under-cared for, and the Guthrie is committed to working with MN Black Theatre Circle and other Black artists to create lasting relationships of respect and mutual care."

From these meetings, the artists of the MN Black Theatre Circle created a community-wide initiative to center, elevate and amplify the voices and protests of Minnesota Black theater artists. The first phase led to a monthly series of virtual events and performances by Black artists from the Twin Cities, which were supported by the Guthrie. These events will culminate in the Blackness Is... Arts Festival intentionally scheduled one year after George Floyd's death. The festival will celebrate Minnesota Black artists and will be produced and directed by MN Black Theatre Circle in partnership with the Guthrie.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Artist Submissions:


Applications for Blackness Is..., scheduled for May 21a?'23, 2021, are open to all Minnesota Black artists. The curatorial team seeks proposals from any performance medium that is rooted in honoring the oral tradition of storytelling. All artists participating in the festival will be paid. To learn more and apply, visit www.blacknessis.com.


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