The KC Black Arts Network is a social enterprise and brainchild of mine. I created KCBAN because I was always struck by the lack of black artists' representation at galleries or festivals or art fairs or restaurants or almost anywhere in KC. I was also struck by the lack of wider support from the community at large. Kansas City and its surrounding areas have a long rich history of contributions by fabulous Black artists from all disciplines. From the likes of artist extraordinaire Gordon Parks, master sculpture Ed Dwight, poet Langston Hughes to more contemporaries like jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson, soprano Roberta Gumbel, textile artist Sonie Joi Thompson Ruffin, singer/actor Janelle Monae, actor Don Cheadle, producer Dayna North, comedian Eddie Griffith, producer Mara Brock Akil, actor Trai Byers and film makers Kevin Willmott and Morgan Cooper. The list is huge and the roots are deep.
This effort is meant to bring both the artists and artist enthusiasts together in a more consistent and meaningful way. No more excuses of not knowing what's happening in your own city. No more excuses of not supporting your own. No more "I didn't know that" as it relates to contributions from our own.
The KC Black Arts Network exists as an “advocate of local artists of color,” and it supports the local black artist community through promotion of artists’ work through social media and advocacy. The goal with the network is “to cultivate and support experiences between local artists of color and local art enthusiasts.” The Network has provided a platform for hosting artists talks as well as curating visual art exhibitions, including Reflecting The Times: Artworks by Harold Smith, Stefan Jones and Jason Piggie at The Box Gallery, September 2016, Colour Portraits: Unconventional Admiration at ArtsKC, February 2017 and Depictions: People, Places and Things for the Black Archives of Kanas City, February 2018.
KCBAN has served and/or collaborated with several Kansas City cultural organizations: KC Museum, One Percent for the Arts, Art In the Loop, Arts & Aging, Women Who Lead In the Arts (UMKC), InterUrban ArtHouse, The Black Archives of Mid America, African American Artists Collective, and former board member of the Friends of Art Council at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
In the near future an online event calendar and directory of artists with KC roots will be launched to further the knowledge of contributions KC artists have made not only to KC but beyond.