May 30, 2023
Ray High believes it is time for a Charlotte Black Creative Arts Festival. This morning, High offered an early look at his work beginning the process of creating a new community arts tradition in Charlotte, beginning in 2024.
Even the story behind the name is illuminating. High said he wanted it to be Charlotte Black Creative Arts Festival. But before he went to the state to register that name, he said he had been talked out of including the word “Black” in the filing papers. Now he says he’s filing an amendment to insert “Black” back in.
Similarly, there was discussion of why High plans to base the multi-day festival at the Convention Center uptown. His argument is for practicality –access to parking, multiple available venues within walking distance, and the help that conventions anchored uptown get with hotel and other arrangements.
Longtime Charlotte visual artist Tommie Robinson was having none of it. If it’s a Black festival, why not have it in the Black community? he said.
There was another voice in the room, the voice of a Black woman who grew up in old Brooklyn, the center of Black Charlotte before urban renewal. What’s wrong, she asked, with having a Black Creative Arts Festival in the shadow of where she lived and went to school and worshiped?
High’s presentation was just an initial airing of the arts festival idea. There will be many vettings, possibly changes in scope, vision, perhaps even location. But the session offered High an initial community hearing, and he encouraged people interested in the project to contact him via e-mail.
Terry Creech is a fan of the project. He used the Forum appearance to recount a nearly 20-year story of success creating in Charlotte opportunities for young people to learn about and practice the art of the spoken word. Another form of creative art.
Unrepaired equipment at Belmont Center left the Forum dependent on a Webex camera and audio equipment that created the video below but made faces fuzzy and voices clear or muffled or inaudible, depending on the moment. The Forum apologizes.