Black Arts/West theater opens in Seattle's Central Area on April 1, 1969.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2017
See Additional Media

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.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You