35th annual Black Arts Festival held in Kalamazoo

Posted at 11:21 PM, Jul 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-10 23:21:35-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A long-held tradition returned to Kalamazoo this weekend, after COVID-19 forced organizers to cancel it last year.

The Black Arts Festival brought hundreds of people together to celebrate local creatives.

Paintings, jewelry, music, food and more filled Arcadia Creek during the 35th annual Black Arts Festival.

“I kind of really see my art as a form of social change,” says artist Maya James, who put her prints on display, with each one trying to picture positivity.

“In my art I aim to empower Black people, specifically strive to empower Black women because we have so many stereotypes thrown at us," says James, "we have so much negativity and so much stigma thrown our way that we don’t get to control the way other people see us, and how does that affect how you see yourselves?”

Tyree Broadways's animal portraits focused on that too.

“I’m here to make people smile," says Broadway. "I love showcasing my talent, my gifts.”

Each year, the event helps fund the Black Arts and Cultural Center.

It's an area organization that helps develop creativity in Black people and preserve their heritage.

We do it to celebrate the arts, have community engagement,” says Executive Director Sydney Davis.

But the thousands of dollars made this year will go toward something bigger: helping to pay for a new building downtown.

“We are going to be right on the mall," says Davis, "very visible and have a more accessible space, an active space, for artists to use.”

This way, they can continuously put the culture on display.

“Build an environment that people feel happy, feel safe, feel included,” says Davis.

If you would like to donate to that fundraising campaign for the Black Arts and Cultural Center's new space, visit their website.

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