The Black Academy of Arts and Letters History, Part 12

TBAAL is a very unique cultural arts organization located in the heart of downtown Dallas adjacent to Dallas City Hall. It is the only African-American multi-disciplined cultural arts organization in the country housed inside a major convention center.


TBAAL attracts more than 500,000 patrons to its facility annually for programs and events. TBAAL is the only multi-discipline cultural arts institution in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to offer top notch quality and a variety of cultural arts and entertainment programs all year long. TBAAL occupies over 250,000 square feet of space, which includes:

  • Naomi Bruton Theatre (1,750 seats)


  • Clarence Muse Cafe’ Theatre (216 seats)


  • James E. Kemp Art Gallery
  • Eva Jessye Gift Shop


  • Rehearsal/Lecture/Meeting Rooms
  • Administrative Offices and Box Office



The Black Academy of Arts and Letters History, Part 11

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc. is a Dallas-based multi-disciplined cultural arts institution. The ‘cultural icon’ of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, TBAAL presents and produces exciting cultural arts programs annually in dance, theatre, music, literary, fine, and visual arts. Local and emerging artists participate in TBAAL programs, and noted artists and celebrities have participated such as: Oleta Adams, Debbie Allen, Maya Angelou, Roy Ayers, Akin Babatunde, Obba Babatunde, Erykah Badu, Romare Bearden, The Barrett Sisters, Angela Bofill, Avery Brooks, Cab Calloway, Bill Cosby, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis*, Mari Evans, Antonio Fargas, Kim Fields, Lou Gossett, William Greaves, Alex Haley, Irma P. Hall, Tramaine Hawkins, Jennifer Holliday, Linda Hopkins, Kim Jordan, Ella Joyce, Eartha Kitt, Dr. C. Eric Lincoln, Les McCann, Barbara McNair, Garrett Morris, Roger Mosley, Tyler Perry, Florence Quivar, Phylicia Rashad, Dan Rather, Esther Rolle, Sonia Sanchez, Karen Clark-Sheard, KiKi Shephard, Carole Simpson, Mavis Staples, Glenn Turman, Cicely Tyson, Albertina Walker, Margaret Walker*, Dionne Warwick, Lillias White, Hal Williams, Nancy Wilson, Vickie Winans, and many more.

As of the printing of this document, TBAAL receives 17% of its funding from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and modest grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Approximately 83% of the organization’s funding is generated from other earned income such as admission fees, memberships, and other contributions. Securing underwriting for such a rich array of cultural programs is among TBAAL’s top priorities.

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters History, Part 10

After more than two decades of producing and presenting programs in music, theater, dance, film, television and video, literature and visual arts throughout the United States, TBAAL has continued to create strong ties among many emerging and well known artists and scholars. In the organization’s early history (1977), it established a professional Resident Touring Company called the Third World Players. Renowned actress Regina Taylor was a member of that company in 1978 and other artists such as Erykah Badu are a product of the Academy.

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Incorporated is permanently located in the downtown Dallas Convention Center Theatre Complex. The 250,000 sq. ft. facility houses the 1,750 seat Naomi Burton Theatre, 225 seat Clarence Muse Café Theatre, Eva Jessye Gift Shop, James E. Kemp Gallery, administrative offices and rehearsal spaces.

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters History, Part 9


  • promoting and encouraging the holding of competitions, exhibits, performances, presentations and showings of the arts and letters of Black People
  • providing a reference depository accessible to members and others which will depict (through any and all media now known or subsequently developed, including but not limited to photographs, paintings, sketches, carvings, casting, moldings, films, tapes, recordings, engravings and publications) the skills and achievements of Black People in the arts and letters;
  • providing encouragement to and an outlet for the creative efforts and achievements in the arts and letters of Black People;
  • establishing, providing and granting fellowships, prizes and awards for creative efforts and achievements in the arts and letters of Black People;

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters History, Part 8


  • The Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters was established for the following purposes:
  • To enhance and help sustain the total cause and efforts for which ANA and BAAL were established;
  • To work jointly and cooperatively under the auspices of the founders and former members of BAAL;
  • To serve as a catalyst and clearinghouse for Black arts and letters organizations and institutions;
  • To help promote, implement and disseminate the goals objectives and dreams of ANA and BAAL by:
  • defining, preserving, cultivating, promoting, fostering and developing the arts and letters of Black People;
  • promoting and encouraging public recognition of the universality of the arts and letters of Black People;
  • promoting and encouraging fellowship and cooperation among Black artists, composers, musicians, writers, performers, and all others engaged in artistic and creative endeavors
  • promoting and encouraging the public recognition and honor of the young artists and others as being representative of its purposes, goals and objectives

The History of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Part 7

By the early part of 1973, BAAL had undergone some administrative changes and it became defunct approximately one year later in 1974. Both academies ANA and BAAL, however, had lived up to their respective objective. They gave reality to speculation and solidity to dreams.

Eighty years (1897-1977) after the inception of ANA and eight years (1969-1977) after the development of BAAL, a third Academy generation was formed with the concepts, goals, dreams, purposes and objectives of the previous academies. In 1977, the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc. (JBAAL), was conceptualized. After Curtis King had conversed with C. Eric Lincoln, John O. Killens, Margaret Walker Alexander, Frederick O’Neal, Jean Hutson, Romare Bearden and Doris Saunders concerning the formation of an Academy that would directly involve young and aspiring artists and scholars, JBAAL was founded and officially formed by Curtis King in Dallas, Texas on July 17, 1977 with $250 of his personal money.

The History of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Part 6

Focusing on similar organizational objectives that were developed by ANA, some of the major programs created by BAAL included the Incentive Awards to Promising Artists and Scholars, Revolving Chairs of Black Arts and Letters at Black Colleges, touring Exhibits of Black Art, support of Black Arts at the Community Level, Black Academy Hall of Fame, A Directory of Cultural Activities in the Black Community and a Biennial Conference of Black Artists and Scholars. Other activities included annual competitions and festivals for Black filmmakers, annual retreats for Black writers, establishment of cultural archives covering all major artists and scholars both living and deceased, a Manual for the Guidance of Black Writers in preparing material for publication, an oral history of the Black experience, a photographic record of Black achievements in architecture and the crafts and sponsorship of cultural festivals and forums on Black Theater, Music, Art and Dance.