17 FEB Staff Report
In alignment with the Cincinnati PRIDE statement, Cincinnati Black Pride announced it will host an all virtual Festival Week in June 2021. The Cincy Black PRIDE organizers have been adapting and creating new platforms for the regions Black LGBTQ+ community, and it's allies, to shine on and are excited to announce that Cincy Black PRIDE will continue with June Pride celebrations in a new, creative, and unique way that ensures the safety of residents and proper physical distancing.
Although we cannot gather in person, please join Cincy Black Pride online to celebrate this yearly event which brings us together to celebrate the brilliance and resilience of Greater Cincinnati’s Black LGBTQ+ community.
We are loading up Virtual Pride with our most innovative Pride Festival to date! "Working hard with our dedicated executive leadership and irreplaceable committee members we are proud to coordinate this year's event. Cincy Black Pride is integral to creating meaningful collective
experiences for LGBTQ+ communities, and those experiences have a renewed importance during this difficult time," said K.A. Simpson, Board President for Cincinnati Black Pride.
A full schedule of Cincy Black Pride will be posted soon on their website.
05 MAY Staff Report
Our K.A. gives local entrepreneur and long-time educator, Angela Houston 3 simple and proven LGBTQ resources in education today.
Interview with African American author and playwright K.A. Simpson about how the American theatre has a role to play in the American racial crisis arena.
BlackOut Cincinnati (BO): What is happening right now in Cincinnati regarding COVID-19? Are venues expected to close anytime soon?
K.A. Simpson (K.A.): Well, many are expecting the Delta variant to explode. In terms of what’s happening in the industry, area theatres are planning for a full on production schedule this year, after being dark for most of 2020. In terms of my own professional and personal creative journey, through a lot of hard work and a little luck, I've had a great opportunity, including producing, Bro'Kin River, the first live theatrical events at our Aronoff Center since it went dark in 2020. Throughout this process also, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Angela Houston, owner of Angela M. Houston Educational and Financial Counseling, and life-long professional educator to create a reading curriculum for high schoolers.
BO: Like the rest of the country, American theatre is going through a political and racial crisis. How is Black Lives Matter changing theatre?
K.A.: Right now, different establishments in America are going through a rude awakening. BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) are coming out from the woodwork and are being given more opportunity. Some of the most interesting artwork is done by women and people of color, and we very much feel there’s not a lot of opportunities for us. Before, we were all fighting for the “token spot”: the room left by white cis males for one woman, one black person, one Native American, etc.
BO: How is the fight taking place?
K.A.: Local art organizations are leading the way, like ArtsWave with Truth & Reconciliation initiative. Over the last year, ArtsWave has invested more than $1 million in direct funding for artists of color.
BO: Can you speak about one of these projects?
K.A.: Yeah, so Bro'Kin RIVER is an original 60-minute stage play I wrote back in 2018 and based on the true story of Margaret Garner, a Northern Kentucky slave who escaped from her plantation. Upon recapture, she took the life of her child instead of seeing her forced back into slavery.
Through the Truth & Reconciliation Grant, I was able to put it on at the Aronoff...the first live show they ran in 14 months.
The play opens on Garner's 1856 Cincinnati trial, Garner is transcended to present day, entering on the day after the murder of George Floyd. As Garner comes to terms with her sudden travel through time to the precipice of the Black Lives Matter Movement, her character opens our eyes to the racism of the past, and how modern-day implicit-bias practices are not too far removed from that time
BO: I’m guessing it was pretty successful...being the first live, in-person show at the Aronoff in 14 month?
K.A.: It sure was. Sold out for all three nights of the run. And I'd say it was partly due to the type of folks wanting to start seeing theatrical performances. It seems as though the theatre subscriber base is changing. Traditionally, the biggest subscriber base has been white middle-aged middle-class women from the boomer generation or generation X. That kind of base has views rooted in a certain type of racism, which is why theaters are not producing the most challenging and artistically fulfilling works. Now, we’re seeing a mass audience diversification bringing a different audience estetic into the theaters.
BO: Doesn’t that have as much to do with, as you mentioned earlier, more art organizations taking a chance on projects, created by people of color?
K.A.: It’s definitely a case of which comes first; the chicken or the egg. They’re both connected. The value of the black dollar is huge: if black people around the world took one day off, we would take down the global economy. Whether in cinema (Spike Lee, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Lee Daniels, Jordan Peele, Tyler Perry) or in music (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Janelle Monáe, we’ve had that power for some time now.
Now we’re having a moment, so people want to give two or three spots to black and brown creatives… it’s upsetting because we’ve been saying this for years.
BO: Well said. Well, thank you so much for your time and generosity.
K.A.: Thank you for interviewing me, it’s an honor.
07 JUL Staff Report