Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Prestigious Black Academy of Arts & Letters


March 31, 2023

The institution has cultivated Black talent for more than 4 decades!

The Black Academy of Arts & Letters (TBAAL) is a renowned institution that has been promoting and celebrating the contributions of Black artists, writers, and performers since 1977. The nonprofit acts as a cultural hub, offering access, opportunities, and a platform to amplify Black artistry. In honor of the founding anniversary of this great and legendary organization, here’s everything you need to know about the prestigious Black Academy of Arts & Letters.

TBAAL was founded by Curtis King, a musician and composer, and Donald Payton, a playwright, and director. 


King and Payton created TBAAL as a safe space for Black artists to showcase their talents and be acknowledged for their excellence. The mission is to preserve, promote, and present Black art and cultural traditions as well as provide educational opportunities for Black communities. 

The organization offers a variety of programs and services, initiatives including live performances, art exhibitions, and literary events.

TBAAL serves both children and adults, catering to a diverse audience and garnering a pretty large following. Their annual Riverfront Jazz Festival is a staple in the Dallas, TX community, bringing together accomplished jazz musicians from across the globe. TBAAL also puts on a Soul Food Festival, celebrating African American culture through food, music, and art. 


In addition to its public events, TBAAL offers educational programs for students of all ages. 

The organization’s Youth Arts Academy provides after-school and summer programs for kids that allow them to grow their skills in music, dance, theater, and visual arts. These programs give young people the opportunity to develop their artistic talents and gain valuable life skills.TBAAL also offers scholarships to students pursuing careers in the arts. To date, the organization has awarded over $1 million in scholarships since its inception. 

Still, the most significant contribution of TBAAL remains its commitment to preserving African American history and culture. 


The organization’s African American Museum houses a collection of artifacts, documents, and artwork that chronicle the history of Black Americans. The museum also hosts temporary pop-up exhibits highlighting special moments in Black culture. 

TBAAL has been recognized nationally for its contributions to the arts and Black community. 

In 2015, the organization was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. This prestigious award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the advancement of the arts in the United States. Through its programs and events, The Black Academy of Arts & Letters has enriched the lives of countless generations of individuals and helped to create a more vibrant and diverse artistic community.


Thank you for all of your contributions to the preservation of Black excellence!

Cover photo: Here’s everything you need to know about the prestigious Black Academy of Arts & Letters/Founder Curtis King poses at Naomi Bruton Main Stage/Photo Courtesy of Brendan Sullivan/The Dallas Morning News

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