The following is a list of Black-run arts organizations that have made the Twin Cities the cultural juggernaut that it is. These are places that are worth checking in on, donating time to, and supporting through contributions.
This comedy improv group has provided bitingly funny and thoughtful takes on current politics and blackness over the years at venues like Capri and Pillsbury Theatre. blackoutcomedy.org.
Black Storytellers Alliance
This nonprofit celebrates oral traditions as practiced by African people, and host the annual festival Signifyin’ and Testifyin’. blackstorytellers.com.
Black Table Arts
This group organizes Black artists, creates spaces for leadership and creativity, and educates in the community. blacktablearts.com.
Modern dance, figure skating, theater, and other performances driven by African diasporic perspectives. brownbody.org.
A small arts incubator with an emphasis on artists of color, LGBTQIA+ artists, immigrants, Indigenous, low-income, and artists exploring non-traditional pathways to success. facebook.com/pg/catalystartsmn.
Contempo Physical Dance
This professional dance company, created by Marciano Silva dos Santos, fuses Afro-Brazilian dance, capoeira, and contemporary dance. contempophysicaldance.org.
Free Black Dirt
Led by Junauda Petrus and Erin Sharkey, the duo organizes events featuring original theater and performance from local and emerging artists. freeblackdirt.com.
This super-awesome North Side nonprofit wears many caps: It’s a youth art and design education center, offering training, internships, paid apprenticeship programs, and classes for teens and young adults. It’s a gallery, hosting a variety of national and international artists throughout the year. It’s also a retail shop, skate park, and an artists’ studio space. juxtapositionarts.org.
Maia Maiden Productions
Over the years, choreographer, activist, and events organizer extraordinaire Maia Maiden has organized a variety of happenings showcasing Black choreographers, hip-hop movement, emerging artists, and Black arts. Evenings include Sistah Solo, Being Brothers, and Rooted. maiamaiden.com.
Million Artist Movement
A collective of Black, Brown, and radical artist revolutionaries and activists. millionartistmovement.wordpress.com.
Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery
Another great nonprofit on the North Side, this organization showcases the history, successes, and struggles of African American life in Minnesota. Past shows have featured photography from the 1940s, portraits of women in their Sunday best, and a celebration of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, named after Marshall "Major" Taylor, the first African American to win the world championship cycling race in 1899. maahmg.org.
Mixed Blood Theatre
While Mixed Blood is not black-owned, it does bring powerful Black theater to the West Bank neighborhood. Past productions include Is God Is, described by our theater critic, Jay Gabler, last year: “Aleshea Harris’s shocking script had Mixed Blood audiences riveted in a visceral production anchored by a towering performance from Dame-Jasmine Hughes, the best actor to emerge on Twin Cities stages this decade.” Their Radical Hospitality program makes theater more accessible, offering first-come, first served free seating for all. In addition, Mixed Blood hosts a variety of educational workshops, including info on legal counseling. mixedblood.com.
New Dawn Theatre Company
This theater troupe presents cutting edge works from under-represented communities. newdawntheatre.org.
This St. Paul theater focuses on works that examine the African American experience. Past productions have included critically lauded takes on for colored girls, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and August Wilson’s Jitney. Penumbra also hosts speaking engagements and educational programs throughout the year. penumbratheatre.org.
Pillsbury House + Theater
Another playhouse featuring groundbreaking works by Black artists, Pillsbury House + Theater is part of Pillsbury United Communities, an organization offering a variety of services in the Chicago Avenue neighborhood, including tax prep, emergency childcare, education, and more. Award-winning productions onstage include Nilaja Sun’s No Child… and Pike St. Pillsbury is also home to the Naked Stages series, a seven-month fellowship for performing artists. pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org.
This 501(c)(3) nonprofit digital newsroom is completely free, reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. sahanjournal.com.
The Somali Museum of Minnesota
This is the only museum devoted to Somali culture in America -- or anywhere in the world. The collection features artifacts as well as contemporary works. The museum also hosts a variety of performances, has a YouTube channel, and offers classes. Their artifacts were moved to a safe space during the riots, and since then they have raised over $28,000 for repairs. somalimuseum.org.
Soomaal House of Art
A Minnesota-based Somali art collective that provides studio space, studio critiques, artistic community, mentorships for younger Somali artists and an annual exhibition space with educational programming. soomaalhouse.com.
Threads Art Project
Founded by Karen Long Charles, Threads showcases emerging and established choreographers, including their annual group show, Tapestries. They are currently raising funds for their new space. threadsdance.org.
Cultivating literacy, leadership, and social justice through spoken word and hip-hop culture. truartspeaks.org.
Projects inspired by the African diaspora include films, performances via Freestyle Theatre, the Speakeasy Records label, and workshops and residencies. facebook.com/truruts.
Founded in 2004 in St. Paul by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, TU Dance is a nationally lauded contemporary dance company showcasing diverse artists drawing from modern dance, classical ballet, and African-based and urban vernacular movements.