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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.

See Our Classes.

Programs & Services

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

See Programs and Services List.


Our History


Founded in 1982, Memphis Black Arts Alliance, Inc. is headquartered in the FireHouse Community Arts Center, a historic 1910 city fire station located at 985 South Bellevue. Through the creative leadership and energies of its founding executive director, Bennie Nelson West, MBAA brings to the community performing, literary and visual artists, arts groups. Its founding purpose is to: preserve and promote African-American arts and heritage; share information and resources; increase artistic and economic self-sufficiency; and advocate for increased community support. Click here to view the Founders Philosophy.

Through partnership with the City of Memphis, Shelby County government, federal and private support, the FireHouse Community Arts Center has been renovated to provide a dance studio (which doubles as the FireHouse Little Theater), art gallery, art studio, piano lab, private music instruction studio and business office. The historic fire station has been converted into an inviting and nurturing multi-disciplinary arts center and grounds, including the Fannie Lou Hamer AgriCultural Garden, a dance.

MBAA Highlights

  • First professionally staffed, year-round, non-profit cultural center in Tennessee
  • First cultural arts agency to showcase Grammy-winning Sweet Honey in the Rock in Memphis
  • More than 300 artists, singers, actors, dancers, musicians, and writers employed since 1982
  • Nearly 3,000 students, ages 2 to 82, of diverse ethnic backgrounds and abilities have discovered and refined their talents in music, dance, theater, visual and literary arts thanks to enrollment in MBAA’s FireHouse Community Arts Academy (since 1996)
  • More than 300,000 as visitors, students, audience, supporters and volunteers from throughout the Greater Memphis region to performances offered by MBAA
  • Artists’ residencies
  • Educational classes, camps, and workshops for individuals of all ages—6 months to 80+ years
  • Exhibits of established and emerging local, regional and national visual artists
  • Extensive ArtsReach program for youth and adults at schools, senior centers, social agencies, businesses and other public and private organizations.
  • More than 27 culturally diverse professional artists-educators annually, contributing more than $3 million into the Greater Memphis economy
  • FireHouse ArtsReach instruction, workshops, and performances provided to churches, senior centers, day cares, schools, Pink Palace Museum, Brooks Museum, Girl Scouts, The Links, etc. and corporations such as FedEx, USPS and Smith-Nephew and has served more than 7,000
  • VO!CES AF!RE Open Mike Live & on Cable TV and Our Story, multi-arts production attracted audiences of more than 50,000
  • In August 1998 MBAA acquired title to the historic FireHouse #12 after expiration of a 13-year lease and completed its third renovation in 2004.

Special Projects and Events

  • FireHouse Community Arts Academy, year-round classes from August to May
  • FireHouse Community Arts Festival (aka Soulsville, USA FireHouse Community Arts Festival)
  • Jazz-A-F!RE monthly jam sessions – last Sunday of the Month except holiday week in December.
  • Arts-A-Fire Youth Theater Troupe (Ages 7 – 17)
    • The Me Nobody Knows
    • The Breadmaker and The Soul Kids
  • Men Who Cook Fundraiser

Space Rental

The FireHouse Community Arts Center Facility and Grounds are available to the public for receptions, weddings, meetings, etc. Click here for more information and rental application.
Click here to read our Founders Philosophy