National Black Theatre Hall of Fame still in the works

Photo by Tevin Stinson

National Black Theatre Hall of Fame still in the works
August 03
00:00 2017

While it still doesn’t have a permanent home just yet, city officials are still working with the N.C. Black Repertory Company (NCBRC) and the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) to make the National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum come to life.

The hall of fame and museum was a dream of NBTF founder Larry Leon Hamlin well before his untimely passing in 2007. Since that time, city and festival officials have been working together to try to imagine what that museum would look like.

An initial campaign was started during the 2015 festival and a make-shift archive was set up inside the Winston Museum on South Marshall Street.  This year new attractions were added to the museum and its location was moved from South Marshall Street to the Sawtooth School for Visual Arts on Spruce Street.

During the daily NBTF press conference held inside the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday, Aug. 1, Frank Elliott, deputy director of marketing and communications for the City of Winston-Salem, said they have not given up on the dream but there is a lot of work to be done. Elliott said a committee of community stakeholders has met every month since the 2015 festival, but it is a slow process. 

“We want a place that will memorialize the giants of black theater, not just actors but directors, and everyone else who makes black theater the experience that it is, so there are a lot of details that have to be worked out,” Elliott said.

To help work out some of those details, stakeholders in the project are asking for the public’s input. This year they have provided a survey that ask festivalgoers what they would like to see inside the National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum. This year shrines to Paul Robeson, Ted Lange, and Ethel Waters were added to Mabel Robinson, and the late Larry Leon Hamlin, who were featured in the museum in 2015.

According to Elliott, the finished product will be an ode to all things black theater and not just the festival.

“If not in Winston-Salem, then where else would it be?” asked Elliott during the press conference.

“It’s a slow process, but we have been working to make that happen.”

The National Black Theatre Hall of Fame and Museum will be on display at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art located at 251 Spruce St. until Aug. 25. The exhibit features images, videos, and installation piece that showcase black theater.

For more information on the museum visit


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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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