Performing arts

Kuumba is a Bristol organisation for Afrikan-Caribbean arts and is an important community resource. Formed in 1974, it is the only Afrikan-Caribbean arts and resource centre in the south west of England. Kuumba actively promotes Afrikan-Caribbean arts and encourages greater access to the arts. Kuumba delivers its own art projects through education work. It also acts as an agency for freelance artists through the Afrikan-Caribbean Arts Forum (ACAF). The ACAF campaigns for the development of Afrikan-Caribbean arts and assists in the development of regional policy that addresses the needs of artists. It also encourages greater communication and dissemination of information in the arts locally, and offers training and advice for artists and organisations. ACAF provides a directory of artists, performers and groups who are actively involved in the arts within the region.

Kuumba puts on a variety of workshops for adults and children, these include music, dance, storytelling, arts & craft. One such workshop, run by sculptors Taiwa and Richard Chapo from Zimbabwe in Central Africa, gave people the opportunity to learn the tradition of Zimbabwean stone sculpting. Kuumba’s dance activities for young people provide them with the opportunity to experience the best in dance from the African Diaspora. By working with different dance teachers and companies, the young people learn various styles of dance, from traditional African and Caribbean dance through to contemporary black styles including jazz, hip hop and break-dance. Sometimes the groups work towards performances – often at community events, they also go on trips to see dance companies perform outside Bristol.

Kuumba is involved with projects which promote the skill-development of young local people of Afrikan heritage. The Black Regional Initiative in theatre (BRIT), for example, was a collaboration between Kuumba and Bristol Old Vic Theatre. It was a strategic project to develop new writing, performing and technical training for local people of African Heritage. Playwright Winsome Pinnock was commissioned to work with writers of Afrikan heritage, these scripts were then developed to be performed as part of the New Vic Basement Studio season of new plays. An adult theatre group was also set up to ensure that there were enough aspiring actors and directors of Afrikan heritage with which to produce the new plays. An outreach programme was run simultaneously through the writing of a commissioned play for Kuumba’s Creative Riddims Youth Theatre.