International African Arts Festival

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[Entertainment: Arts & Culture]

The 39th Annual International African Arts Festival (IAAF) begins Friday, July 2nd and runs through Monday, July 5th, from 10:00am until 9:00pm each day at the beautiful Commodore Barry Park, Park Avenue and Navy Street downtown Brooklyn, New York.

Festival-goers will gather each day to enjoy live music, dance, spoken word performances, a bustling traditional African marketplace, showcase performances and fashion and natural-hair shows. Children of all ages can safely enjoy an arts-and-crafts zone, storytelling, clowns, and our Youth Talent Search. Commodore Barry Park is a large, green site that offers grass and shade, a swimming pool, playground, basketball and other park activities.

The Festival's Theme this year is “Uhuru Sasa!” which means, “Freedom Now!” Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Uhuru Sasa Shule (Freedom Now School) and paying tribute to one of its outstanding students, Ancestor ATIBA COARD. The Festival began in 1971 as a fundraiser for the Uhuru Sasa School, a community-based initiative that educated youth and adults about African culture.  The fundraiser was a small festival with about 20 arts-and-crafts vendors, local entertainers, and food prepared by parents.  Almost 2,000 people came to the event and the fundraiser was a success.

That early format of entertainment, food, and marketplace drew increasing crowds annually and became known as the African Street Carnival. Four years later, the festival moved to the field at Boys and Girls High School where it became the African Street Festival.

Today, known as the International African Arts Festival, the eagerly anticipated annual event has an estimated annual audience of over 50,000.  It is still held in Brooklyn, but is now in its third transition to a larger venue to accommodate growing audiences. This year’s highlights include: Rwandan songstress Somi; the ARTCURIAN Arts & Crafts Zone; the Festival Parade; African Dance Workshops and the Black Inventions Exhibit, located in the Knowledge Tent. The original lineup of local folk-arts entertainment has also remained, but over the years has been enhanced by artists such as The Mighty Sparrow, Eddie Palmieri, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, KRS-1, India Arie and Lauryn Hill. The open-air African Marketplace continues to welcome visitors to a host of unique shopping options, entertainment and delicious global cuisine.

The IAAF works diligently to continue as a cultural institution at a time when the fiscal climate for the arts and culture is extremely challenging. It acknowledges everyone who has helped over the past 39 years. Upon admission to Festival’s activities attendees are asked to make a suggested donation to support the work of this non-profit cultural organization. Mark your calendars and anticipate having a wonderful time at this annual community celebration.

For further information call (718) 638-6700 or log onto

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