For many, many years, Winston-Salem has had a reputation of sorts, but nothing to do with the arts. The main attraction was the information and mementos left behind from the Salem witch trials that occurred there. But not anymore, the town has a new event that attracts thousands.
The National Black Theatre Festival isn’t so new anymore though. It’s now celebrating 20 years of festivals since 1989. The co-chair of the festival is Ted Lange (aka Isaac) of Love Boat fame. The festival attracts upwards of 60,000 patrons per year and has single-handedly boosted the economy of the city.
In 2005, The New York Times reported on the festival: “The event, held every two years here since 1989, is a showcase for black theaters, a networking opportunity for black performers and playwrights and an extended-family reunion of sorts for the fans and celebrities who return time after time from New York, Los Angeles, Newark and Dayton, Ohio…For a few days, downtown Winston-Salem is transformed, its streets echoing from drum circles and choked with limousines. There are African art vendors and midnight poetry jams, open-mike talent shows and nightly celebrity receptions at which the dance floors are packed until nearly dawn.”
While we make arrangements to get there for this year’s festival being held from August 3 – 8, read the full story here. You might end up in the crowd.