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Black Arts/West theater opens in Central Area on April 1, 1969. Essay 2017 : Printer-Friendly Format

On April 1, 1969, Black Arts/West, an outgrowth of the Performing Arts Department of the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) opens in the old Cirque Playhouse at 3406 East Union Street in Seattle. The company features productions written, directed, and acted by African American artists.

Performances ended after 12 years in 1980 as the result of governmental funding cuts, poor management, and artistic infighting. "The organization died mainly because it relied on federal money," stated Douglas Barnett, founder and a Black Arts/West director in the early years. "Theaters just can't survive that way." Actor Kabibi Monie, another founding artist, said in 1996, "Black Arts/West was extremely important to all the community. It saved my life, was a positive family unit, and I think our young people need more of these alternatives right now."

The Seattle Times, October 6, 1996, p. M-5; Ibid., December 20, 1998; Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 267.

Travel through time (chronological order):
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Related Topics: Theater & Dance | Black Americans |

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Diane Hayes and Bobby Simmons in dance rehearsal, Black Arts/West, ca. 1970
Courtesy Douglas Q. Barnett

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