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Black Arts Legacies
Black Arts Legacies tells the history and legacy of Black art and artists in Seattle through the voices of artists and experts.
Jun 28, 2022
The Neighborhood at the Center of It All
Conversations about arts venues in Seattle's Central District neighborhood led to stories of creation, loss and preservation. The first season of the Black Arts Legacies podcast started as a story about arts spaces. Specifically, in four episodes, listeners have explored the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, the James and Janie Washington Cultural Center, the Northwest African American Museum and Black Arts/West. Connecting these places is the Central District, a neighborhood that needs its own episode. For this episode, host Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers revisits interviews from the first four episodes and reflects on her own observations to tell the story of the neighborhood’s past, present and future. It is a journey that begins with the vibrant music scene of the ’60s and the activism of the ’70s, then continues into the rapid process of gentrification, continued activism and arts of the ’80s and hip-hop in the ’90s. The journey ends with the continued effort to preserve Black arts spaces and build new ones because there is room for so many more. It is an effort she invites listeners to join. See the full Black Arts Legacies project, featuring profiles, photography and videos. --- Credit Host/producer: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Story editor: Sara Bernard Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten Audio support: Jonah Cohen
Jun 21, 2022
A Belated Curtain Call at Black Arts/West
Though the Madrona theater closed in 1980, several artists trace their current work to its heyday. Black Arts/West had slow beginnings. When Douglas Barnett opened the theater in 1969, there was nothing else like it. Its mission to "Educate, Enlighten, and Entertain" by making accessible theater for and about Black people first required appealing to the Black people living in the neighborhood. Eventually, Black Arts/West would bring professional actors, directors and dancers to Seattle to hold workshops and help community members of all ages hone their craft. Black Arts/West closed in 1980 after operating for about 10years in Madrona, at 3406 East Union Street. Those leading the theater when it closed say its decline was due to both a loss of interest in Black theater in the community and a subsequent loss of federal funding. Yet, over 40 years later, the theater’s legacy of bringing professional Black theater to Seattle lives on, largely through several artists who were uplifted by the work of Black Arts/West. For this episode of the Black Arts Legacies Podcast, host Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers talks to several artists who were involved with Black Arts/West and who have been dancing, acting and making art ever since. See the full Black Arts Legacies project, featuring profiles, photography and videos. --- Credit Host/producer: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Story editor: Sara Bernard Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten Audio support: Jonah Cohen
Jun 14, 2022
Holding Many Hopes at the Northwest African American Museum
The Central District institution has a complicated backstory and an important role to play for Seattle's Black arts community. The historic Colman School building at 23rd and Madison in Seattle’s Central District has lived many lives. It has been a school, the site of the longest occupation of a public building in U.S. history and the African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. And since 2008, it has been home to 36 housing units and the Northwest African American Museum. Today, the Colman Building is owned and operated by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, with the Northwest African American Museum as a first-floor tenant. And, since it was decades of activism and passion in the making, the museum holds many hopes. NAAM is a site of dreams fulfilled and dreams deferred. A lot of that comes from so many people wanting this space to be the very best it can be. For this episode of the Black Arts Legacies podcast, host Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers examines some of NAAM’s controversial history, while also talking with some of those involved in bringing the museum to life, as well as artists with ties to it. There’s a lot to untangle along the way, but those who invested in the space or have been uplifted by it insist that the Northwest African American Museum deserves its due. See the full Black Arts Legacies project, featuring profiles, photography and videos. --- Credit Host/producer: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Story editor: Sara Bernard Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten Audio support: Jonah Cohen
Jun 7, 2022
Hindsight, Insight and Foresight at the Dr. James and Janie Washington Cultural Center
The late couple's Craftsman house in Seattle's Central District is now a cultural center that inspires the next generation of creatives. The Craftsman-style house at 1816 26th Ave. in Seattle’s Central District is more than a house. It is a museum. And, because of the hindsight, insight and foresight of two Seattleites who loved both art and their community, alongside the work of countless volunteers over many years, it now serves as a treasure chest of inspiration and creativity. In 1997, James and Janie Washington, the owners of that house, established a foundation to mandate that their home — including its garden and James’ studio — be preserved and used to encourage others to share their talents. From that effort came the Dr. James and Janie Washington Cultural Center. For this episode of the Black Arts Legacies Podcast, host Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers tours the James and Janie Washington Cultural Center with several volunteers who are heavily involved in its current operations. She explores the 3,000-book library, James Washington’s studio full of his tools and endless boxes still being processed by volunteers. In addition to the mandate to preserve the memory of James and Janie, this episode also explores the Washingtons' mandate to encourage continued creativity through the foundation’s artist-in-residency program. This episode features a conversation between Brooklyn and one of the many artists inspired to make art at the cultural center. Through these artists, and each visitor to the Washington Cultural Center, the legacy of the late James and Janie Washington lives on. See the full Black Arts Legacies project, featuring profiles, photography and videos. --- Credit Host/producer: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Story editor: Sara Bernard Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten Audio support: Jonah Cohen
May 31, 2022
Setting the Stage at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Transformed by a 1960s urban relief program, the former synagogue has fostered generations of Black artists even as the neighborhood around it changes. For the first half of the 20th century, the building at the southeast corner of 17th Avenue South and East Yesler Way in Seattle’s Central District housed a Jewish synagogue. But by the late ’60s, the neighborhood demographics looked much different, and fighting urban poverty had become a government priority. This, combined with the vision and effort of local citizens, gave the building a second life as Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Federal money from the Model Cities Program helped the majority-Black Central District create a community hub and creative outlet for themselves. In the 50 years since, that hub has served as much more than just an arts space for generations of Black Seattle. And it has also continued to give young people a space to find and explore their artistic passion. But the Central District is significantly less Black now than it was back when the institute first opened in 1972. So the venue, now operated by the nonprofit LANGSTON, had to change to meet the needs of Black people displaced across King and Pierce counties while also fighting to stay a Black space. It was a battle worth fighting because, for many Black people in and around Seattle, that former synagogue is too important to lose. For this episode of the Black Arts Legacies podcast, host Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers explores the origins of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and speaks to several artists who found a platform for authentic expression there. They each help to frame the institute’s importance and visions of its future. See the full Black Arts Legacies project, featuring profiles, photography and videos. --- Credit Host/producer: Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers Story editor: Sara Bernard Executive producer: Mark Baumgarten Audio support: Jonah Cohen
May 13, 2022
Introducing the Black Arts Legacies podcast!
Coming June 1, 2022 When Black artists talk about why they chose to build a career in Seattle, several places come up over and over. Each is regarded with deep love and passion. And each place is full of stories that deserve telling. That is why Crosscut is producing a podcast devoted to those places as part of Black Arts Legacies, a major multimedia project featuring profiles, original photography, and videos all about Black arts and artists in Seattle. Hosted by Brooklyn Jamerson-Flowers, each episode of the podcast will explore the history and ongoing impact of a Black art spaces in Seattle. The stories of each space will be built around the voices of the artists who claim these places as critical to their development and experts who understand their deep history. “It is the places that have helped community come together when no one else could,” CD Forum executive director Sharon Nyree Williams said. “Places that have allowed for marginalized groups to come together and tear down the walls of not being your authentic self.” So, which places? You will hear about Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, The James and Janie Washington Foundation, the Northwest African American Museum, and Black Arts West. The podcast launches, along with the rest of the project, on June 1, with a new release every week in June. Subscribe now.