BANF Honors Six African American Organizations in Houston

by Jessica Fuentes February 20, 2024

The BIPOC Arts Network and Fund (BANF), a Houston-based organization that supports local BIPOC arts communities, has designated six African American organizations as Houston Cultural Treasures. The organizations that have been honored include the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, SHAPE Community Center, Community Artists’ Collective, Community Music Center of Houston, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and Nia Cultural Center in Galveston.

A photograph of a Black woman wearing a long dress and a headwrap with a Juneteenth flag in the background.

Juneteenth celebration at SHAPE Community Center

A statement from BANF noted: “The Houston Cultural Treasures harbor ambitious dreams for the future, envisioning a Houston where the contributions of BIPOC artists are not only acknowledged but celebrated for their vital role in the city’s cultural richness. They advocate for an equitable arts sector where artists of color are empowered with the necessary support and resources to flourish. Moreover, they strive for a community where collaboration and respect transcend all cultural and ethnic divisions, fostering a truly inclusive environment.”

The recognized organizations focus on supporting African American culture in a variety of ways. While the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is dedicated to highlighting the stories and contributions of African Americans in the military and the Nia Cultural Center provides educational opportunities for students rooted in cultural competency, the other organizations have a strong spotlight on the arts. 

Established in 1979, the Community Music Center of Houston offers classes, private music lessons, and concerts promoting Black music traditions. Opened in 2012, the Houston Museum of African American Culture collects artworks and presents exhibitions centering African and African American cultures. Chartered in 1987, the Community Artists’ Collective provides an array of opportunities for African American artists, including educational programming, professional development, community building, and exhibitions. Established in 1969, SHAPE Community Center provides after-school and summer youth programs, as well as community development and support opportunities, such as a regular elders meeting and a food security program. 

In a press release by BANF, Shondra Muhammad, Deputy Executive of SHAPE Community Center, remarked, “Being designated as a Houston Cultural Treasure in our 55th year is an immense honor. It acknowledges the collective efforts of those who’ve shaped SHAPE into the institution it is today.” She continued, “Our work is often not recognized as ‘fine’ art, diminishing its value as merely crafts or primitive.”

As BANF celebrates these organizations, it also seeks to draw attention to their ongoing need for support, advocacy, and collaboration. Learn more about these organizations and BANF via the BANF website.

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