The Black Arts and Cultural Center is turning the last weekend of July into four days of fun both indoors and out. Their annual Black Arts Festival is being held from July 24-27 and includes everything from poetry and film to comedy and fun for kids.
Interim director Yolonda Lavender came by to discuss what she's looking forward to, and what the Black Arts and Cultural Center will be focusing on in the coming season.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
"It's been really a great experience for me to be at the cusp of something of this size - learning as I go, making sure that I'm upholding the legacy of the BACC and the Black Arts Festival. I'm a native of Kalamazoo. I remember attending this festival when I was a little girl, and now to be able to be on this side of it is really a blessing for me. It's a great experience to be able to go through pulling all of the pieces together to really make this happen, upholding the standard that's already been set, but then bringing some new fresh ideas of how we can step it up a little bit, increase the visibility of the BACC, and just get people excited again about attending the festival."
On how Lavender would like to see the BACC thrive under her leadership:
"I want to definitely expand our youth programming. I'm a huge youth advocate, done several things in the community that are focused on youth, and just upholding that legacy but taking things in a new level in regards to theater...music...and then collaboration. I want to be able to reach out to other organizations - arts, culture, or otherwise - so that we can come together and make some things happen in our community - and even outside of Kalamazoo. All in the spirit of just raising awareness and consciousness about black art and culture, and just making those things a lot more visible."
On why someone should take the time to support the Festival and the BACC:
"We have artists and poets, vocalists, actors, playwrights, who are doing amazing things -and the productions that we put on, the programming that we provide, is all done in excellence and is unique to what other arts organizations are not necessarily focusing on in Kalamazoo. And not to say that there aren't any that are, but again, the BACC is unique in the way that we are focusing on black art and culture. I think that that draw - that would be the thing that would spark somebody's interest in wanting to attend because we're featuring that and focusing on that when a lot of other people are not doing that. "