The New Griots Festival is dedicated to celebrating, advocating for, and advancing the careers of emerging Black artists in the Twin Cities

Founded in 2015 by Josh Wilder and Jamil Jude, the festival was created to connect emerging Black artists, of various artistic disciplines, to one another. Josh and Jamil, both transplants to the area, felt the isolation of being young Black theatre artists in a predominantly white theatre community. They assumed that the isolation they felt must be shared by emerging Black artists in the other fields in the vast Twin Cities arts landscape. Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Josh and Jamil curated a festival to bring together those artists from their disparate disciplines and highlight their achievements over the course of a weekend.

Headlined in the Star Tribune as “a festival for the New Black Renaissance," the 2015 New Griots Festival highlighted the talents of ten emerging Black artists representing dance, music, literature arts, multi-media, theatre, fashion, and pottery. The artists included Trevor Bowen, Stephanie Nevilles, Sherrie Fernandez-Williams, Darrius Strong, ShaVunda Horsley, Rock Johnsen, Farrington Llewellyn, Maxie Rockymore, Adora Tokyo, and Josh Wilder. Each artist was given a 90-minute performance/showcase opportunity, asked to teach a free class to the community, and involved in panel conversations around the state of Black artists/arts in the local/national landscape. The festival also included social gatherings and networking opportunities where the festival artists where able to meet other artists from the greater Twin Cities art community and community members had opportunities to connect and interact with festival artists.

Building off of the success of the 2015 festival, NGF has been invited into the Guthrie’s 9th Floor Initiative, providing an opportunity to increase its ability to celebrate, advocate, and advance the careers of emerging Black artists in the Twin Cities. In 2017, NGF will present an expanded festival; increasing from three to ten days, doubling the amount of performances and community classes, adding a live in-studio “Watch me Work” component. The 2017 festival will also include the networking events and panel conversations that helped provide context around the importance of the work of Black artists working locally and nationally.

The 2017 New Griots Festival

DATES: July 6th-16th

LOCATION: The Guthrie Theater, 818 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415