It's that time of the summer when the music is at its best, people come to the park and entertain their ears and eyes with the sounds and sights of the Black Arts Festival. In its 22nd year, the festival in City Park South from Friday to Sunday, July 11 to 13, has been dubbed “A Vivid View” by founders and organizers.
“With a vivid view, everything becomes apparent – all arts from performing to visual,” said festival founder Perry Ayers. “As African Americans, everything we do is colorful, spirited and with enthusiasm. It’s very clear , very distinct.”
A platform for African-American and African artists from the metro Denver communities, the festivities are designed to present and promote traditional and modern culture – through visual and performing arts – in an inviting manner that unites people. This unique event gathers artists of all mediums to showcase their talents, local businesses to build a bigger customer base and people from around the community to feel true unity.
One of the largest Black Arts Festival in the United States drawing an annual attendance of more than 80,000, Denver’s event provides a marketplace for African and African-American art and expands opportunities for those artists and their patrons. Ayers shares the same concern as many other leaders in Five Points and surrounding neighborhoods: to see more economic opportunities for all members of the community year-round.
To achieve this year’s theme, A Vivid View, the Black Arts Festival Committee plans to create a celebration filled with bright, intense energy. Following in the traditions of year’s past, an array of visual artists will set up a colorful, multicultural gallery in City Park South, where people can learn about arts from around the world and such place like Cuba and Haiti, as well as find truly original American art. To complement the visual extravaganza, a multigenerational mix of music will be performed throughout the festival on four stages.
"We are doing this event to keep our heritage by celebrating our elders, remember our ancestors, elevate our youth and educate the public," Ayers explained.
The Boogaloo Celebration Parade, with its strong beat and colorful pageantry, will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 12, from City Park West’s entrance on 23rd Avenue and York Street. The parade will feature marching bands, step crews, motorcycle teams, lowrider cars, the Denver Black Firefighters and Grand Marshall and Denver City Council Woman Carla Madison, among others. One of the most vibrant attractions will be the March of the African Nations.
The Louise Duncan 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts will be presented to Cleo Parker Robinson, Denver’s dame of multicultural modern dance. The public is invited to attend the awards ceremony on Sunday night, July 13 on a festival stage. Also Sunday evening, the Denver Black Arts Festival will for the second time join forces with City Park Jazz to present Sheryl Renee in the Soul Revue Jam session.
Other highlights include the Children’s Pavilion with hands-on art projects, a story porch, an art house, a sculpture garden and community mural painting. A “Celebration of the Black Churches” on the F. Cosmo Harris Gospel Stage will pay special tribute to two of Denver's oldest African-American institutions, Shorter AME Church and Zion Baptist Church.
Volunteers are invited to come and help out. Vendors are welcomed as well. More information about participating in any of the festival events and activities is available from the Denver Black Arts Festival Committee online at www.denbaf.org or at the office at 303-298-1027.