National Black Arts Festival leader Simanga resigns

Michael Simanga, hired by the National Black Arts Festival a year ago to create a new strategic direction for the Atlanta institution and to orchestrate this summer’s 25th anniversary event, announced his resignation Friday.

An NBAF statement suggested the July festival, presented mainly in Centennial Olympic Park in recent years, will go on.

Simanga’s resignation is effective March 15, when he completes his one-year contract as executive director. He is departing to “pursue other opportunities,” the statement said.

Simanga was the NBAF’s third director in four years. Still, the former Fulton County arts and culture official was seen by many as an insider who could be a stabilizing force.

But signs of instability remained. In December, Simanga eliminated the NBAF’s six full-time staff positions, converting three of the employees to contract roles. He called it a strategic shift aimed at making the festival sustainable.

NBAF board Chairman Evern Cooper Epps credited Simanga with “rebuilding important community relationships and restoring credibility with our key stakeholders.”

The NBAF’s next event is the seventh annual Fine Art + Fashion benefit March 21 at Neiman Marcus in Lenox Square mall.