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Welcome to Certain Blacks: Celebrating Diverse Arts.

Certain Blacks is an arts development organisation rooted in East London. We are dedicated to supporting diverse artists from various cultural, socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds. We firmly believe in nurturing long-term relationships with artists, arts organisations, venues, festivals, and promoters, as they are integral to our mission. With a focus on live art, music, theatre, and digital platforms, our goal is to secure lasting investments in diverse works, enabling them to tour and perform not only in the UK but also internationally.

At Certain Blacks, talent development plays a crucial role in our work. We provide emerging artists with professional space and support to showcase their work on a national scale. We understand that individuals from minority communities often face barriers in their creative journeys, experiencing exclusion and limited opportunities. As a brand that represents excellence, we offer a platform for both new and established artists to expand their professional horizons by working in diverse environments and connecting with broader audiences.

Key Milestones

Since our inception in 2015, Certain Blacks has achieved significant milestones:

2015: FoundationCertain Blacks was established, and we presented the thought-provoking event “My Vote Day Count.”

2016: Arts Ensemble Festival – Inspired by the Arts Ensemble of Chicago’s iconic song “Certain Blacks,” we organised a festival that featured incredible artists such as Franko By, Lady Vendredi, Crying in the Wilderness, and Conundrum. This festival also paved the way for a play set to feature at The Young Vic in 2022.

2017: Harlem Festival – Celebrating the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance, this festival showcased exceptional performances including Byron Wallen’s Indigo, featuring poems by Langston Hughes, as well as Crying in the Wilderness’ “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. Additionally, we featured works by Shabnam Shabazi, Fancy Chance, and Lyrix Organix.

2018: 101 Creation Centre – Collaborating with Upswing Aerial Theatre, Crying in the Wilderness, Brian Lobell, and individual artists, we developed the Circus Circus Circus project. This program, hosted at the 101 Creation Space, aimed to support the growth of new and diverse circus artists by providing guidance on direction, dramaturgy, and live art approaches.

2019: Ensemble Festival – In partnership with Continental Drifts, supported by The Royal Docks, GLA, and LB Newham, we presented the Ensemble Festival, a vibrant music and performance program. This free outdoor event featured captivating jazz performances by Cleveland Watkiss and Orphy Robinson, alongside stunning circus acts by Symone and Out of Order, two companies developed at the 101 Creation Space. Additionally, we produced Circus Circus Circus, which included hip-hop circus, live art by Brian Lobel, and Jamel Herwood’s “The Privileged.”

2020: Without Walls – We joined Without Walls and became part of its artistic directorate, contributing to the selection and development of artistic content for their projects.

2021: Ensemble Festival Second Edition – This COVID-safe outdoor festival showcased exceptional performances from Without Walls, including Strong Lady, Jason Singh, Simple Cypher, Do what Ya Mama Tells You, and Emergency Exit Arts.

2022: Shipbuilding – Our program based at Hoxton Hall and Rich Mix featured an exciting blend of music, theatre, and performance. Notable artists included Alleyne Dance with “A Night’s Game,” Richard Stamps with “Dick,” Abstract Benna, and Livia Kojo Alour’s “Black Sheep.” We also presented the Ensemble Festival, continuing our tradition of remarkable artistic experiences.

Supporting Artists

Certain Blacks has proudly supported numerous artists throughout our journey. From Lady Vendredi and Franko B to Shabnam Shabazi, Crying in The Wilderness, Fancy Chance, Lyrix Organix, Out of Order, Vidya Thirunarayan, and Joanna Dias, we have nurtured and presented their work. Our indoor productions have found their home in esteemed venues such as Rich Mix, Hoxton Hall, and the former Stratford Circus, while our outdoor presentations have delighted audiences at the Ensemble Festival in London’s Royal Docks.

Our Impact

Over the past six years, Certain Blacks has transitioned from a project-based events organisation in London to an integral player in the strategic development of the performance sector. We have embraced a diverse range of art forms, and the artists we work with are an integral part of the wider Certain Blacks ‘family.’ Our commitment to fostering diverse talent and providing a national platform for their development has garnered recognition for our organisation’s role as a primary enabler in the industry. Today, we are firmly established within the cultural ecology of East London and the region.

Ensemble Festival

The Certain Blacks Ensemble Festival stands as our premier outdoor event. This festival, which debuted in 2019 as part of the Join the Docks Festival, showcases exceptional performances in jazz, live art, and circus. Renowned artists such as Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson, Byron Wallen, Out of Order, Symone, and Madaleine Trigg have graced our stages. In 2021, the Ensemble Festival was held in Victoria Docks and featured Jason Singh, Simple Cypher, EAA, Charmaine Childs Strong Lady Productions, and Just More Productions with “Do what Ya Mamma Told Yah!” We proudly contribute to Without Walls, a national producing consortium for outdoor arts.

Venue-Based Festivals

Certain Blacks has curated a series of venue-based festivals since 2015, each centered around a specific theme. Our past festivals include My Vote Dey Count (2015), Arts Ensemble (2016), Harlem (2017), and Circus Circus Circus (2019). These themes reflect our commitment to addressing issues impacting diverse artists and the development of our organisation’s work. In 2022, we are proud to present the Ship Building festival, inspired by the iconic song of Elvis Costello and Robert Wyatt. This festival will feature Alleyne Dance’s “A Night’s Game,” Richard Stamps’ “Dick,” Abstract Benna, and Livia Kojo Alour’s “Black Sheep.”

Join us at Certain Blacks as we celebrate and champion the richness and diversity of arts. Together, let’s create a thriving platform for talented artists to shine and inspire the world.