The Black Seed

The Black Seed embodies the profound words of Richard Wright, as we - the Black theater field - fling [ourselves] into the unknown . . . to see if we could grow

A fundraising campaign for The Billie Holiday Theatre


The Black Seed is a first-ever national strategic plan to create impact and thrivability for Black theater institutions, unprecedentedly conceptualized and led by the Black theater field. The Black Seed is a force for systemic change in the arts and culture world: a national Think Tank of Black theater institutional leaders; a fund seeded by a collective of funders; National Leadership Circle for major donors to invest in Black theater institutions across the nation; The Black Seed Cohort comprised of national networks and coalitions; and a national marketing campaign to tell the story of Black theater in America.

Black Theater institutions shape our national narrative and public discourse. Yet, inequities persists. Of the $4 billion in philanthropic support from foundations to arts organizations, 58% of that goes to the largest 2% of organizations; all white-led. The other 98% of organizations split the last 42% and arts organizations serving communities of color shared only 4% of that pie. The median budget size of the 20 largest arts organization of color surveyed by the DeVos Institute is 90% smaller than their mainstream counterparts, and more than half of these organizations were operating in 2013 with budget deficits. Black theater is at a critical moment. Over 600 Black theater institutions existed from 1961-1982. Many are described as having a “meteoric existence” with few surviving a decade and even fewer celebrating 15-year anniversaries.

The Black Seed is a synergistic solution to a long-standing problem of inequitable structures and systems; we are greater - as a sector - than the sum of our individual parts. 

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About the Organization

The Billie Holiday Theatre

The Obie and AUDELCO Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre is a state-of-the-art creative campus located in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant, home to the largest African American community in the nation and recently named one of the 40 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World by Time Out Magazine. A thriving cultural anchor to the Black community since its inception in 1972, The Billie is one of the last remaining theaters forged in the aesthetic and sociocultural kiln of America’s Civil Rights/Black Arts Movement. Today, The Billie stands as a beacon for world-class art rooted in social justice, and the only multi-platform performing arts center with a presenting, institutional residency, and education program led by, for, accountable to and near people of African descent in New York City. For close to half a century, The Billie has elevated and promoted the critical voices of Black artists, and the stories of the complex journey toward freedom for people of African descent, a journey that is far from over. Indeed, as our community struggles amidst two converging pandemics: COVID-19...

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