Community Spotlights: Arte Noir, Asé Theatre, Wa Na Wari

At Arts Corps, one of our beliefs is that everybody deserves to experience the joy of artistic expression and that we must work to nurture, uplift, and celebrate every person’s creativity, especially those who’ve faced systematic barriers. In honor of February as Black History Month, we are spotlighting three local organizations who do just this: nurture, uplift, and celebrate Black artistry and Black creativity. Make sure to follow and support their amazing work year-round!

Logo, Arte Noir in black, blocky graphic letters with yellow dot in center of "o"

Arte Noir exists to uplift Black artists. It spotlights and celebrates the Black community through the articles in its online publication, covering local, national, and international figures and events. Its physical space in the Central District serves as an anchor, providing a gathering space for community where they can find and support Black art through its retail shop and fine arts gallery. The space helps create consistent revenue stream for the artists, only selling items made by Black creatives who receive 100% of net proceeds.  

Currently, the gallery is showcasing “Once Upon a Spacetime”, a collection of ethereal artworks by Aramis Hamer which transcend the boundaries of time and space to explore the interconnected narratives of strength, grace, and spiritual elevation. Check out more about the gallery here.

Looking forward, Arte Noir is working to expand to include a small recording studio for training young people in audio and music production, as well as an art and maker space for classes and artist use. Help them make this possible by supporting them through their website. Follow their Facebook and Instagramto hear about their latest publications, events, and more. 

Asé theatre logo, "Asé" in big black cursive, and "Theatre" in sans serif caps, pink over black background

Asé Theatre is a community-based theater company dedicated to engaging the power of storytelling to inspire and bring about change. They use cultural practice and performance to preserve and promote ancient practices and principles of African and Indigenous theatre, including Ritual Poetic Drama within the African Continuum. Previously known as Griot Girlz, Asé Theatre is familiar to our Arts Corps community as it is led by former Co-Director of Arts Education, the talented Olisa Enrico.

Asé Theatre designs culturally responsive arts based curriculum for people of all ages. Every summer they host Gxrls Act, an immersive paid performance internship in which self-identified teenage gxrls are taught skills in movement, acting, dance, and songwriting, and are empowered to share their voice. The internship culminates in a collaborative performance. Asé Theatre also hosts classes and workshops for community throughout the year. Currently, they are offering a Movement and African Dance class with Teaching Artist Aishe, every other Monday, 7-8pm, in Washington Hall. Make sure to follow them on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with all their awesome work, and to visit their page to donate.

"Wa Na Wari" logo, with black caps, "Wa" and "Nari" bolded. On top, two black triangle outlines over trapezoid, like a roof

Meaning “Our Home” in the Kalabari language, Wa Na Wari is more than just an organization or a reclaimed space, it is an immersive community art project and a statement about the importance of Black land ownership in gentrified communities. Sited in the historically Black Central District, Wa Na Wari rents a fifth-generation, Black-owned home and gives it back to the Black community, providing a space for organizing, movement building, and Black creativity. It offers free art exhibits, film screenings, performances, and workshops.

Wa Na Wari hosts The Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute, a two-year community story training program which works with a faculty of Black oral historians from around the country, as well as with local historians, archivists, geographers, librarians, and artists, to teach the ethics, techniques, best practices, tensions, and dilemmas of community-based oral history and Black memory work. Every year, it also hosts Walk the Block, the annual outdoor visual and performing arts festival. Follow their Facebook and Instagram for updates on all the happenings and support their work directly on their page.