National Black Arts Festival cuts back to five days

Economy hurts festival funding; lineup may be known in March

The festival, which celebrates African-American arts and culture, will be held July 29-Aug. 2.

Executive director Stephanie Hughley says the uncertain economy forced the decision.

"We have to be financially responsible," she said. "Some of our oldest sponsors are coming back but probably with less. Others are holding out, cutting back. Normally I know by now where our funding is coming from."

She says the performances and venues are lined up but won't be announced until the finances are assessed at the end of this month and a determination made of what the NBAF can afford to mount. The roster will be released when contracts are signed, hopefully in March.

"I would hate to see a summer go by without doing something," Hughley said.

Last October, the NBAF was one of eight organizations nationwide selected for "Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence," a $15.1 million arts initiative funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. That grant money is intended to help organizations develop ways to grow their audiences and resources. It cannot be used for operations.

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