BLACK ARTS MATTER.
BLACK COLLABORATIVES MATTER.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Winner of Sarasota Magazine’s 2021 “Best New Dialogue on Diversity.”
The Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative believes in the arts as a unifying, powerful force. It’s strong enough to defy artificial barriers of class, race and culture—and bring people together across these divisions. We have formed common cause to use the unifying power of the arts to nurture inclusion and diversity across the regional arts and cultural landscape. SBAC’s specific focus is to increase knowledge, visibility and appreciation of work produced by emerging Black artists. We also design programs to support creative development for high school and college students. We advocate for greater exposure to artists of African descent throughout the Suncoast Arts community and provide educational initiatives to expose students and arts patrons to the work of artists of African descent. Toward this effort, SBAC has forged strong alliances with area-based nonprofit organizations, museums, businesses, and schools that also share our vision of a robust, diverse arts community.
SBAC’s initiatives include:
- SBAC’s Arts and Racial Justice Panel series provides a forum for artists and arts and civic leaders to participate in courageous conversations. Diversity is the first step in building a healthy community. How can we be more inclusive? How can we point out our blind spots, widen racial parity in our organizations and civic infrastructures, encourage diversity hiring criteria, and highlight opportunities for artists of color? How can we offer access to the arts to both artists of color and audiences of color? This free series looks hard at real-life challenges, provokes and questions and, ultimately, explores transformative solutions. Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a leading civil rights activist, journalist and former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio and CNN, served as moderator for two of three forums we presented, which featured such Black luminaries as the composer Daniel Bernard Roumain; filmmaker Dorian Emerson Munroe; publisher and author William Paul Coates; and playwright Calvin Ramsey. The first three panels explored issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the visual arts, performing arts, and media and literary arts. More than 350 people participated in each forum. The fourth forum, scheduled for fall 2021, is “The Black Art Experience in Higher Education.”
- How to prepare students of color to meet the many challenges life presents? One way is to give them opportunities to express themselves through the artistic medium. A core part of SBAC’s mission is to offer opportunities for young students of color to find expression in creative outlets. SBAC has designed ongoing educational initiatives that support the talent of students of African descent at the secondary and college level. We are proud to partner with the Sarasota School system to encourage and mentor students of African descent to explore their creativity in the arts and create educational opportunities for students to learn about the arts of people of color. SBAC has proposed a three-year project in collaboration with the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County that features engagement with parents, educators, and organizations. The project includes promoting the work of young artists of color at area galleries and arts centers; mentorships with accomplished Black artists; and diversity workshops and classes.
In 2021, SBAC partnered with Art Center Sarasota and four Sarasota County high schools and one middle school to offer students of African descent the opportunity to participate in a visual arts exhibition commemorating Black History Month. The “Student Black Muse” exhibit showcased the works of 20 young artists and was available for viewing virtually at the Center.
SBAC has also created a curatorial platform, the Ambassadors Program, which raises awareness and appreciation for the artistic legacy of the African-American artist through visits to area galleries and museums and artist studios and through artist salons, workshops, and seminars. This initiative serves to foster knowledge, exchange, and collaborations with diverse communities while strengthening and enriching the understanding of the culture, history, and value of art by artists of color.