What's Inside

2014 - 2024


Celebrate 10 years of Black Arts MKE's excellence in performing arts through our mission to increase the availability and accessibility to high quality African American arts and culture.  We hope you will join us and support our events.  Come lift us up!  Your support helps ensure culturally-relevant programming is accessible at no cost admission to events for youth and low-cost admission for our community.


Be Inspired, Educated, And Uplifted at our 2024 Inaugural Gala - Details coming soon!

Our 2024 10th Anniversary Season is generously supported by:  Bader Philanthropies, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Herzfeld Foundation, Johnson Controls Foundation

July 2024

I AM. Young, Gifted, & Black Summer Camp

July 5-26, 2022 Milwaukee Youth Arts Center North Building


Wednesday, July 5, 2024, through Friday, July 26, 2024, M - F 8:45AM to 3:00PM, Ages 14 – 18

Please note location change:  MYAC North Building | 1702 N. 4th Street (West Walnut & Vel R. Phillips Avenue), Milwaukee, WI 53212

Our performing arts camp infuses cultural aspects of African and African American history led by MKE-based professional artists.  This year's theme - I AM. Young, Gifted, And Black, focuses on the music and literary giants Nina Simone, and Lorraine Hansberry respectively.

Camp staff and special guest teaching artists will guide youth-led activities in learning hands on many aspects of musical theater including spoken word/creative writing, art (costume & set design), choreography, and music.

Day of Kuumba culminating staged performance for youth families and friends will be held at Milwaukee Youth Center, 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212 -- Community invited to attend!

I AM. performing arts camp is free to the community.  If you would like to sponsor a youth, camp scholarships and/or financial donations are welcomed.  Scholarship Donation - Cost to send one youth to our month-long performing arts camp is $1,800 per youth.

For more information, please contact Ashley S. Jordan, I AM. Camp Director


  1. Must be currently ages 14-18.
  2. Must have a strong interest in the arts.
  3. Must have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  4. Must provide two professional or academic references.
  5. Must participate in an interview process.
  6. Must have a minimum GPA of 2.8.
  7. Must be able to commit to a Monday-Friday 8:45am-3pm schedule.
  8. Must be able to work independently and in a team setting.
  9. Must submit a personal essay:  "What being Young, Gifted, and Black means to me"?

Please read this statement and listen to this video

Lorraine Hansberry was a talented playwright, writer, and activist who rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. She is best known for her groundbreaking play "A Raisin in the Sun," which was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Hansberry used her art to address issues of race, gender, and class, and was a powerful voice in the civil rights movement. Despite facing racism and discrimination throughout her life, she remained devoted to telling the stories of the marginalized and fighting for social justice. Lorraine Hansberry's legacy lives on as a pioneer for black artists and activists, and as a testament to the power of young, gifted, and black voices.

Thank you to our generous I AM. Camp Program Sponsors and Supporters:





Bader Philanthropies, Francie L. Silverman, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Harri Hoffman Family Foundation, Herzfeld Foundation, Kohl's Hometown Giving Grant, Steigleder Charitable Trust.

August 2024


Black Arts MKE is proud to again present MKE Black Theatre Festival 2024, returning to community venues across the city from August 8-25. The three-week-long celebration of Black arts and culture features ticketed and free events including three full-productions, staged reading, audition masterclass, auditions (staged reading & Black Nativity), Poetry Set with The Jasmine Sims & more!

Our 10th Anniversary Season of MKE Black Theatre Festival is generously supported by:



Black Nativity by Langston Hughes | Directed by Ashley S. Jordan

December 5-8, 2024 Wilson Theatre at Vogel Hall, Marcus Center



Black Nativity by Langston Hughes returns for its 9th Annual Holiday Musical Production, December 5-8, 2024, at the Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall, Marcus Center. Hughes’ joyous holiday musical is a testament to his timeless work, telling the story of the Nativity through a combination of scripture, poetry, dance and song from the African-American perspective.

Each year, Black Arts MKE showcases MKE-based professionals and emerging theater talent.  We provide new opportunities for next-gen artists to display their artistic skills and work alongside the Marcus Center’s seasoned backstage professionals.  

Black Nativity by Langston Hughes is led by Artistic Director Wanyah L. Frazier and features a new familial take on Hughes’ song play by emerging artist and first year Black Nativity Director Ashley S. Jordan.  Choreography is led by international professional dancer and teaching artist Debrasha Greye, along with returning veteran Music Director Antoine Reynolds. 

Black Arts MKE 10th Anniversary Season is generously supported by Bader Philanthropies, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Herzfeld Foundation, and Johnson Controls Foundation



 Wanyah L. Frazier

“Creatively Black Nativity will take audiences on a heartwarming journey of familial love, faith, and the creation of new family traditions and norms.  Audiences will be inspired by relatable, but current family stories, a home reminiscent of Christmas, and entranced by a dreamlike vision of Bethlehem.  Black Nativity represents a reclamation of the Black narrative and a staple of the Black creative culture.  As we move into a period of ‘Renaissance’ in Milwaukee’s creative environment, we have the opportunity to create a rendition of Black Nativity that provides an intergenerational, culturally expansive and professional arts experience.”

Creative Producer, Dancer and Photographer, Wanyah “Leon” Frazier is a Milwaukee Born, Jamaican - American Artist & Entrepreneur dedicated to the expansion of Arts Equity. As a Performer, CEO of WoLF Studios MKE, Artistic Consultant and avid Arts Educator, he has explored the professional Arts world from all sides.

With organizations such as The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Black Arts MKE, NeWaukee, MARN ART + CULTURE HUB, Joy Engine and Danceworks in his creative portfolio, he endeavors to build a new Ecosystem for Artists of Color to live and thrive.



Ashley S. Jordan

“As a new director, I want to introduce multiple artistic influences throughout the world of today with Black traditions and iconic moments throughout the history of Black Nativity performances.  Black Nativity 2023 shifts in dynamic energy, relevance and also a dichotomy of righteousness, redemption, and oral tradition.  Black Nativity is an anchor in the community and to those who experience cultural variations of the African, and African American diaspora.”

Ashley values the work and ongoing tradition Black Arts MKE is building and continuing to set the tone for creative greatness, educational growth in our schools through the arts and more. She served as a Lead In-House Program Coordinator at PEARLS for Teen Girls. She had the joy of being a Lead Teaching Artist, Recruitment Coordinate, and Community Engagement Associate for Milwaukee Repertory Theater for the August Wilson Monologue Competition now known as Next Narrative Monologue Competition. She considers herself an advocate for equality and justice working with Leaders Igniting Transformation and African American Roundtable. She was Co-founder of Lights! Camera! Soul! While bridging the gap with the theater community at Alverno College and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ashley holds an Associate Degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College in Marketing Management, B.A. in Leadership and M.B.A. from Alverno College.  She is a proud alum and owes all of her gratitude to the fine women and aunts in her life. She continues to create and promote theater to bring a powerful change and impactful conversations to the MKE community. 

BLACK NATIVITY BY LANGSTON HUGHES  Musical performance schedule featuring post-show talkback (inclusive run time 2H):

Thursday, December 5, 2024, 7:30PM (Student Matinee 11:00AM)

Friday, December 6, 2024, 7:30PM 10TH ANNIVERSARY GALA

Saturday, December 7, 2024, 2:00PM & 7:30PM

Sunday, December 8, 2024, 2:00PM & 7:30PM