Black Artists Group [BAG]
- Ryan D.W. Bruce
Community artists’ organization founded in St Louis in 1968. Headed by the free-jazz proponents Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, Hamiet Blueitt, and Lester Bowie, this multi-arts collective produced poetry, dance, theatre, and visual arts. Musicians frequently collaborated with others from the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which provided a model for the BAG’s activities, including free performances, lectures, and demonstrations at public schools. The BAG’s free education program was directed towards St Louis’s low-income areas and its African American youth. The organization was heavily supported, with funding contributions from the Inner City Arts Project of St Louis, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Danforth Foundation. With ties to the Black Arts and Black Power movements, the BAG focused on cultural and artistic autonomy for the African American community through collective self-determination. It fostered the careers of numerous musicians, poets, dance and drum ensembles, acting ensembles, entertainers, filmmakers, and TV producers; several performing arts centres were founded by BAG members. Although it was disbanded in ...