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National Black Arts Festival records

Identifier: aarl96-017

Scope and Content Note

Ms. Deborah Heard donated the first NBAF collection to the Auburn Avenue Research Library on August 14, 1996. Her donated items include: Textiles - commemorative tee-shirts, caps, sweatshirt, and canvas tote bag. Ephemera - commemorative buttons, compact disc recording, and publications, such as program guides, brochures, exhibit catalogs and guides, flyers, promotional packages, catalogs, annual reports, The Drum, Essays, tour guide pamphlets, news clippings, and poetry.

The second part of the collection was donated by Mr. Clyde Hudson, on November 27, 1999. His donated items include: Audio cassette tapes, program booklets, exhibit catalogs, photographs (scrapbooks, albums, etc.), financial records, administrative records, correspondence, reports, folk arts records, minutes, and banners.


  • 1988-1998


Restrictions of Access

There are no restrictions on the research use of this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Prior permission from the Research Library must be obtained in writing before any portion of this collection can be published or reproduced.

Historical Sketch

The Fulton County Arts Council (FCAC) created the National Black Arts Festival, Inc. in 1987. It is supported by an annual operating grant from the FCAC, along with grants from other public agencies, private foundations and through corporate sponsorships, merchandising and memberships. The NBAF is striving to diversify its base of support even more in the coming years. Currently the festival is governed by an eighteen member national Board of Directors, which is comprised of corporate, arts and community leaders.

The NBAF permanent staff includes: Managing Director, Deborah R. Heard; Artistic Director, Avery Brooks; Financial Manager, Charles Ferguson; General Manager, Dough Hosney; Director of Development, Shirley Henderson Coleman; Education Coordinator, Anita Whatley; Administrative Secretary, Cynthia Clavon; and Receptionist/Database Manager, Onia Green. The permanent staff is augmented by a team of seasoned arts, and business consultants, who are contracted as needed, to assist in the implementation of approximately 150 arts events and programs that comprise the festival.

The 10-day National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) showcases the outstanding work of artists of African descent in eight disciplines: music, dance, theater, film, folk arts, visual arts, performance art and literature. The festival takes place biennially during mid-summer in Atlanta, Georgia, and typically presents the work of 1,500 artists from the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. The first festival was held in 1988.

Festival events are held in traditional and non-traditional venues throughout the city. Many of the events are free. The 1994 NBAF had a total attendance of 1.3 million, approximately 25% of which come from outside of Atlanta. During the festival audiences of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are educated, enlightened and inspired by its rich variety of high quality artistic presentations.

The mission of the National Black Arts Festival is to showcase the outstanding work of artists of African descent in music, dance, theater, film, folk art, literature, visual art and performance. Festival events take place in numerous venues around the city of Atlanta. However, most activities center on other areas such as Colony Square, the Greenbrier Mall, and Auburn Avenue.


1.5 Linear feet




The National Black Arts Festival collection consists of items from the years 1988 through 1998 and contains commemorative textiles including tee shirts, caps, sweatshirts, and canvas tote bags, as well as ephemera such as buttons, compact disc recordings, program guides, brochures, exhibit catalogs and guides, fliers, promotional packages, annual reports, essays, pamphlets, clipings, poetry, audiocassette tapes, photographs, financial records, administrative records, correspondence, folk arts records, minutes, and banners. The materials document the festivals operations between 1988 and 1998.


  1. I. [Printed Materials], 1988-1998
  2. II. [Artifacts], 1990
  3. III. [Organizational records], 1980-1996


Donated by Ms. Deborah Heard and Mr. Clyde Hudson in 1996 and 1999.

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. Neighborhood Arts Center program files, 1975-1990
  2. Neighborhood Arts Center financial records, 1975-1989 (bulk 1978-1984)
  3. Richard A. Long papers, 1948-1995
Inventory of the National Black Arts Festival Records aarl96-017 aarl96-017
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
2004 September 15
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History Repository

101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta GA 30303