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We offers many classes for ages 3 to senior adults. Whether its dance, music, art, or theatre, we have the perfect classes for you.

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From summer camps, to community service, we have a variety of programs in the arts. See our complete list of prgrams.

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Bio - Bennie Nelson West

BennieBENNIE NELSON WEST - Executive Director of the Memphis Black Arts Alliance followed a dual career path as a professional health educator and human services advocate-planner-lobbyist in New Jersey and a student -participant in the Black Arts Movement in the disciplines of dance, literary, theater and visual arts while living in New York, 1968-1978. She returned home to Memphis in 1978 to Shelby State Community College where she organized the historic First National African-American Crafts Conference & Jubilee, a (forerunner of the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta) funded by NEA & NEH and The Links, Inc.

In 1982, in response to the need of Black artists and the Greater Memphis arts community for audience and professional development, advocacy and resource-sharing, Bennie organized the Memphis Black Arts Alliance with support from nationally acclaimed actors-activist Ruby Dee & the late Ossie Davis.

Under West tenure, MBAA has employed more than 300 performing and visual artists, provided affordable community based arts education to more than, 3,000 Memphis residents of all ages, abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds and initiated unique programs attracting residents and tourists alike to support Black Artists. Through her MBAA initiated many Memphis firsts. 1) The first and only locally initiated Black-owned non-profit arts & cultural center, the FireHouse Community Arts Center (1983); 2) produced Memphis' first African-American Juneteenth Festival on Beale Street in 1983 & 1984; 3) sponsored the first series of national touring African-American artists in Memphis - 1984, A Soldier's Play (cast included Denzel Washington) at the Orpheum, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater (1985), & Sweet Honey in the Rock; 4) the first multi-disciplinary community school of the arts - FireHouse Community Arts Academy (1996); provided incubating support to artists Brenda Joy Smith, George Hunt, Ekundayo Bandele, Lurlynn Franklin, Nubian Theater Company, Chauniece Connor (Ballet on Wheels), Nubian Theater Company and African in April. More recently, West worked to expand MBAA's reach to youth with the creation of The Arts-A-Fire Youth Theater Troupe, serving more than 80 youth and currently performing its third season of musicals and dramas with the goal of promoting “Excellence on Stage and in Life.” Adult programming has expanded to include Jazz-A-F!RE a unique cabaret/BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument) monthly jam session; Encore Creative Arts Series of dance, chorale, plays and arts for mature adults and Movement Mondays - a series of dance classes aimed at adults with Zumba, Grand Tappers, and Movers & Shakers.

A graduate of Melrose High School, Tuskegee Institute (B.S.) and Columbia University (M.P.H), Bennie also pursued a Doctorate in Higher Education and an Executive Masters in Business Administration from the University of Memphis and received additional training in Arts Management from the New School of Social Research in NYC and the Arts Management in Community Institute through the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts. Bennie is the widow of artist Leonard West and the mother of Joshua Parks, Jacob Ford and the late Sarah June Parks and the grandmother of Sarah Jeanette & Joslyn.