A little more than a year ago, three African-American arts groups came together to form the Black Arts Think Tank to help sustain the organizations and “inspire creativity in future generations,” according to its website.
Based at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, the Black Arts Think Tank (BATT) consolidates administrative functions for Ko-Thi Dance Company, the African American Children’s Theatre and Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company.
Ferne Caulker-Bronson, founder and executive director of Ko-Thi Dance Company, noted that sustainability is a serious issue. “How do you get a community to support organizations that actually deliver something that is very healthy, that is mentally healthy, emotionally healthy, psychologically healthy, to a population in a city that really needs it that can’t afford to pay for it?” she said. Ko-Thi works to preserve and perform traditional African-American and Caribbean dance and drumming.
Involvement in culturally specific arts programming benefits both the participants and the community, according to BATT representatives.
“When kids have a sense of well being and there’s a discipline, they’re more likely to do positive things in the community,” said G. Dwight Hamilton, choir director at the African American Children’s Theatre, which teaches children about their heritage and shows them positive images of black life.
Added Kumasi Allen, an instructor at Ko-Thi Dance Company, “By us teaching dance and music, it’s our way [of] teaching life.”
Editor’s note: This video first aired on CBS 58’s Sunday Morning show, as part of a collaboration between Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.