1996 Annual Report

Mission Statement | 1995 Annual Report

Presidents Report

Following the rapid advances of our inaugural year, 1996 was a year of stepping back lightly, a tactic which allows for such worthy endeavors as consolidation and calm evaluation, and especially for a nonprofit arts organization without endowment or staff, it allows for survival - no mean trick in the best of years. Our gross revenues were down 70%, but our sales were down only 23%, sales largely dependent upon two concerts in 1996, as opposed to five concerts in 1995.

We did not submit any grant proposals in 1996, which makes the receipt of a Maine Community Foundation grant all the more gratifying. The grant was made from the Maine Christian Communications Arts Fund at the recommendation of Noel Paul Stookey, well known these past thirty years as a member of Peter, Paul and Mary. We believe Mr. Stookey recommended us because of the food drives which were an integral part of our 1996 concerts. The Ellsworth food drive was for the benefit of the Emmaus Center and the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, and the Camden food drive was for the benefit of Area Interfaith Outreach of Rockland.

The Arthur Hall International Dance Center

The vast majority of our volunteer time and effort in 1996 was directed toward the establishment of the International Dance Center. Regional support for the Center continues to be strong. Despite the losses incurred at the initial site on Main Street in Rockland, in 1996 the Center held its first series of African Dance classes, produced two major concerts, and was warmly received at the Farnsworth Community Festival. The full credits and a list of sponsors for each of these events are included in this report.

The Center has a "conceptual home" at the Farnsworth Art Museum, according to its director Chris Crosman, who also first suggested we look at Watts Hall in Thomaston. Following several meetings, dance classes, and rehearsals, we continue to work with Bill Hahn and the trustees of Watts Hall to install barres, mirrors, and sound baffles there, renovations which would make the hall one of the finest dance spaces in the area. At the suggestion of our artistic director, barres are also being installed in the Space at Silo in Mount Vernon, and very little work is needed to improve the dance facilities of the Thompson Community Center in Union, where we held rehearsals for the first African Harvest concert and where Erma Colvin and Cathy Butler-Corish conduct their classes. These three dance floors, along with the existing Belfast Dance Studio, promise to provide a network of spaces for classes and rehearsals throughout the region.

Finally, the Honorable Robert Peabody, Mayor of the City of Rockland, has declared, "The time has come for a performing arts center in Rockland," specifically mentioning a dance company and appointing Gail Gulick to represent us on his special committee to study ways and means. Our board of directors remains committed to finding a home for a dance school and performing company with its own autonomous board of directors under the artistic direction of Arthur Hall. With a stable home, the International Dance Center would attract visiting artists from around the world, expand our broadly based community dance company (which already includes dancers of all ages and body types), and provide a base for a professional touring ensemble. It is a clear and worthy vision, one which Arthur Hall has achieved before, and he can do it again.

The Arthur Hall Collection

The Collection expanded significantly in 1996, most notably with a major acquisition from Elizabeth Roberts, who presented us with four carefully preserved scrapbooks and over four thousand color slides, materials which span four decades of the history of the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble. The paper archive includes original programs, photographs, newspaper clippings, and personal correspondence. The color transparencies are unique. Ms. Roberts captured irreplaceable images of the AADE in performance, on tour, backstage, and in rehearsal from the late 1950s through the 1980s. She has a good eye for things that will never be quite the same again - babies and children, birds and kittens - and a good eye for history in the making - the lush costumes she designed and made over the years, the company in Africa and in the Caribbean, visiting African dignitaries, and very touching portraits of several people no longer with us, most intimately of Clarence Edward White, who passed away in 1994.

At the heart of the Collection are the many boxes and filing cabinets of Arthur Halls own materials, some of it personal and dating back to his childhood. The contributions of Elizabeth Roberts include her 1995 gift of some fifty large, original posters and other artifacts from 1961 into the 80s. Also in 1995 we received materials dating from 1962 through 1973 from dance historian Joe Nash, and in 1996 we received several items from Van Williams, including materials collected by the late Sandra Charlton, who joined AADE in 1969. My own film archives date from 1977 through 1982, some of it existing only as camera original. In 1996, despite a severely limited budget, the Collection was able to begin transferring some of that material to videotape.

From out of the blue we received a copy of the very earliest film of Arthur Hall ever made, a film by Jorge Preloran from about 1956 while the two men were stationed in Heidelberg, Germany with the US Armys Special Services. The Unvictorious One is the surreal dance of a young man first confronting the barriers of race discrimination. Now silent, the film was originally set to Arthur Halls poem The We of Me. Mr. Preloran, who went on to teach filmmaking at UCLA, hopes to reconstruct the sound track and - forty years later - reissue the film, donating the original to the Arthur Hall Collection.

The Collection on the World Wide Web

With the help of stage manager and computer expert Jim Williams, Ile Ife and the Arthur Hall Collection staked out a small claim on the frontiers of cyberspace, a virtual reality that grew to some five hundred files using almost eight megabytes of memory by the end of 1996. In addition to materials from the Collection, the web site includes pages on Arthur Halls African Festivals in American Schools, a selection of poems, notices about the work of the International Dance Center, and large selections from both the 1995 and the 1996 Annual Reports. There are also extensive hyperlinks to other sites - Africana, film and dance, Philadelphia and Maine - and a growing number of guest pages, including Jobo Kunda and the Gambia, the Womens Sekere Ensemble of Philadelphia, and the Maine Student Film and Video Festival.

In its first nine months, the web site at http://IleIfe.org attracted over fifteen hundred visitors from all over the world, among them Ayo Ngozi Brown of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at Cornell University. On the strength of what she found on the internet, Ms. Brown decided to focus her Masters thesis on the history of the AADE. She traveled to Maine to interview Arthur Hall, producing a very important recording and a transcript of their interview, which are now part of the Collection, and she then returned here to complete her research using materials from the Collection.

Ms. Brown is very knowledgeable about African and African-American cultures in general and about black dance in particular. We are already the beneficiaries of her labor. We look forward to the completion of her thesis, and she has agreed to be the principal research assistant for And the Children Danced. None of this would have happened without our presence on the internet, and if the potential of this new medium still outweighs its gross production, we, for one, are rapidly approaching equilibrium. Our site has been warmly received in several quarters, already we are making an increasing number of sales, and once we are adequately funded in one or more of our endeavors, we shall be able to fly with this powerful connection already in place.

And the Children Danced
Thirty Years of the Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble

The title is new in 1996. The subtitle and substance remain the same. For all its broad appeal - the grandeur rising from the flames of the inner city, the African gods and kings, the culture-making, the institution building, the healing, and the teaching - this project is firmly rooted in Philadelphia. Once that city decides this story must be told, all else will follow, and given the quality of the people working toward that decision, this story will be told.

Ahada Stanford is coordinating our funding, and she is the executive director of the Camden (New Jersey) Development Collaborative. Jim Bodine, largely responsible for funding the original production of Orpheus in 1973, remains among our principal advisors from his office in the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. We met with WHYY vice president and station manager David Othmer, who helped produce the two part Africas Children in 1968, and with WHYY senior producer Trudi Brown, and with CoreStates Bank senior vice-president Tom Patterson, who in the early 1970s made the Ile Ife Museum possible. We met with David Haas, director of the Philadelphia Film and Video Foundation. And we met with Odean Pope, music director for both Orpheus and the Model Cities Program, and John Blake, who composed the score for A City Called Heaven.

With the good counsel of all these people we defined our approach to 1997. The film is now conceived as a one hour television special, leaving plans for a feature-length theatrical release for the next millennium. Odean Pope and John Blake will work together as music directors for the project. Trudi Brown will coordinate the involvement of WHYY in the production, post production, and distribution of And the Children Danced. Ahada Stanford will coordinate funding proposals in the Philadelphia area.

In discussing the project with Philadelphia filmmaker Louis Messiah (whose work on W.E.B. DuBois has just been released), he said quite emphatically that in his opinion Arthur Hall is the most important figure in Philadelphias cultural history during the twentieth century. Personally, I believe such superlatives are perfectly appropriate. We have an eminently accomplished artistic director who embodies the past - the very history we have to tell - who here in the present provides the best means we have of telling it, and who provides the creative vision of the future which makes the telling most worthwhile. I accept my responsibilities as producer humbly and with considerable trepidation, relying on more accomplished collaborators to see this important work through to completion.

Respectfully submitted,
Bruce B. Williams

Treasurers Report

There are fourteen financial statements in the 1996 Annual Report, divided into three parts ~
Accounting for all financial statements is on a cash basis. Because African Harvest at the Camden Opera House was at years end, figures from January 1997 are included to provide a more accurate reflection of the concert as a whole. Complete statements are published in the 1996 Annual Report, available upon request after April 1, 1997. A summary is available here.

Respectfully submitted,
Patrice A. Janssen

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