651 ARTS Presents Second Season of its Original Docuseries Virtual Griot – 651 ARTS: The Past and Future of Culture Architects
In celebration of Black History Month, 651 ARTS, Brooklyn’s leading institution for the African Diasporic performing arts, will premiere the second season of its original docuseries Virtual Griot which features creatives in the role of Griots as they relay the stories responsible for keeping history, tradition, and culture alive. Titled 651 ARTS: The Past and Future of Culture Architects, this season of the series explores 651’s origin story as told by the powerful Black women who have spearheaded it throughout its history and is set to launch on February 8th running weekly over the course of four episodes. Additionally, 651 will host a special conversation to celebrate the season finale free and open to the public at the Center For Fiction in Downtown Brooklyn on February 29th at 7pm.
With its own legacy serving as the focal point of this season’s Virtual Griot, 651 hopes to reinforce a key part of its mission to preserve Black culture in Brooklyn and to pioneer new visions of African Diaspora artists. Since its founding in 1988, 651 ARTS has become a trusted convener of contemporary African Diasporic artistic expression, a champion and nurturer for emerging artists and their work and a vital cultural resource for its surrounding community. Now in its 36th year, the venerable institution is preparing to move into its first-ever permanent home located in the heart of downtown Brooklyn later this year and is making major strides in its continued growth and expansion. However, as with many Black-led cultural institutions, the story of 651 ARTS has often gone either undocumented or without a platform reflective of its true impact which is indicative of a deeper and systemic issue around erasure. Virtual Griot presents an opportunity to finally tell the 651 story and explores why access to history and context is an institutional, personal, and spiritual requirement.
Featuring some of the performing arts world’s most dynamic leaders including Mikki Shepard, Maurine Knighton, Shay Wafer and Toya A. Lillard, this iteration of Virtual Griot was directed by Elisha Lawson – who also directed the series’ inaugural season – and is narrated by NSangou Njikam – who wrote and starred in the first season. A nod to the Sankofic practice of looking backward to inform how we move forward, 651 ARTS: The Past and Future of Culture Architects serves as both a collective memory and as a blueprint for the future.