2a. Mission Statement:
The Afrikan Poetry Theatre, Inc., is a non-profit organization that provides a range of cultural, educational, recreational and social development programs.
The Center For Culture, The Afrikan Poetry Theatre is a cultural resource for the city of New York, where you can always get information on speakers, performers and how to do, where to go in this city. The Afrikan Poetry Theatre is looking towards the future for the continued development of this institution and the development of the communities we serve.
Website Link to Mission Statement:
2b. Organization History / Organizational Overview. Index of important events in organization's history.:
The Afrikan Poetry Theatre Ensemble was the forerunner to the cultural center, The Afrikan Poetry Theatre. It was an aggregation of poets, singers and musicians, that organized in 1976 to bring conscious raising lyrics in their songs, exciting sounds of Jazz, funk and African rhythms, and the “Power of The Word” in their poetry. The group was founded and organized by John Watusi Branch, and the late Yusef Waliyaya, both poets and cultural workers .
In 1977 the Afrikan Poetry Theatre became a not for profit organization .
The permanent center was opened in 1978 and was located at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica, NY.
The center was located in the basement of the building. The Center was located there for one year where they presented poetry readings and workshops, and lectures on African history, etc.
In 1979 the Theatre moved to its present location where the programs started to grow and develop. Soon youth programs were added, Jazz and African music concerts, films, weekend cultural classes for youth and a book and tape research center, the opening of our art gallery,.
In 1987 as a result of the executive director’s travels to West Africa, The Afrikan Poetry Theatre Started its’ “Journey To The Motherland” cultural and educational tours, which has re-connected hundreds of people to the motherland. In 1991 the theatre began it’s Afriquest program that organized 4 week educational programs in Ghana, West Africa for high school and college students. APT has also adopted a village in Ghana. and has encouraged others to contribute to the development of that community, bringing electricity, water, computers, supplies, etc. The Afrikan Poetry Theatre is also a co-founder of FESTAM, an international music and arts festival that takes place in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. Where it is responsible for bringing to Senegal Jazz, Reggae, Rap and Gospel artists, symposium participants and tourists to participate.
APT’s Summer Youth Employment Program is one that we are very proud of, as we have been able to put 500 youth to work each summer for the past 6 years.
The Afrikan Poetry Theatre has a small paid staff and large, very loyal, long time volunteer staff that have been very effective in planning a broad multidiscipline program for the community.
2c. Exhibition / Programming / Publishing History.:
Children’s: Joy Of Performing Workshops (training in drama, singing, dance, creative
Summer Cultural workshops (African drum, doll, mask and jewelry
making, tie and dye printmaking, etc., and storytelling from West Africa
and the Caribbean.
Free Computer training for youth 11-19
Rites of Passage for youth ages 11-19
African Dance Classes (children & adults)
Architect classes for children
Youth Employment Program ( YEP) Train and place 350-500 youth in
Summer, for 6 years
Music Presentations - Jazz and African Music Concerts (funded since 1982)
Literature Program - Open Poetry Readings (Open Mic), Poetry workshops, Annual
Poetry Contest, publishing classes.
Lecture Series - Renowned Historians, activists, politicians, media personalities, etc.
Community Forums – Organize and welcome forums to discuss issues of concern to the
Community. Guest speakers and open forums.
Annual Kwanzaa Celebration – A grand annual gathering of approximately 1,000
community residents and their families (children, elders,
adults). Great presentations, African market place, free
toys and gifts for the children, free fruit for everyone.
In 1997 a collaboration with the Office of the Borough
President and APT gathered over 2000 community
residents at York College.
Art Gallery Space - We have an art gallery room for community artists to display their works for 1 month with an opening reception the first Sunday of each month,
African Outreach – We take cultural/educational tours to West Africa for community residents, organize music and arts festivals bringing over Jazz, Reggae, Rap, visual artists and symposium participants. We have also developed aid and relief projects in a few West
Heritage Ministry Pan African spiritual, cultural, political forum founded by Rev. Menelik
Resource Center – We receive calls for speakers, poets, performances of all types, and workshops of all kinds for schools and community organizations.
Newspaper – We publish a quarterly tabloid called “Power of the Word” 10,000 cir.
We have a monthly newsletter we mail out to 6, 700, distributing another 1,000.
New Fall Programs: Quilt and Knitting classes, Bass guitar, drumming and other instrument classes and workshops