Hattiloo Theatre's founding director Ekundayo Bandele has a knack for getting right to the heart of things. Or at least to the stomach. "How many all-day seminars with breakfast and lunch included can you attend for free?" he asks, sincerely hoping that Hattiloo's first Black Arts Symposium will draw a crowd and make a difference. "I want African-American artists in Memphis to know what it feels like to have a sense of cohesion," Bandele says. "I want to show the importance of having a [more unified] black arts community."
Bandele was inspired to develop the Black Arts Symposium after dropping in on a Memphis arts event where he saw many leaders of area arts organizations. "And there were only two black people there," he says, worrying that African-American artists might not be as connected as they could be. In response, he started a Facebook page titled "African American Artists Living/Working in Memphis" and hosted a meet-and-greet at the Hattiloo. "It was amazing," Bandele recalls. "There were ceramicists, painters, actors, poets, all together." The symposium seemed like an obvious next step.
The Black Arts Symposium features 10 panel-led conversations ranging from a history of African-American art to practical discussions about resources available to black artists and organizations. A conversation about the role of art in a multicultural community will be led by University of Memphis photography professor Richard Lou, jazz vocalist Joyce Cobb, and Nigeria-born painter Ephraim Urevbu.
The Black Arts Symposium at Hattiloo Theatre, Saturday, July 9th, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It's free, but space is limited. Reservations can be made online at hattiloo.org, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 525-0009.