First-ever national strategy to create impact and thrivability for Black theater institutions


The St Louis Black Repertory Company is one of close to 100 theatre companies nationally that was awarded funding from The Black Seed as part of a ground-breaking philanthropic initiative backed by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and the New York Community Trust to support the longevity of Black Theatre institutions. 


Launched in October 2020and led by the Brooklyn-based Billie Holiday Theatrethe Black Seed is an outgrowth of a collaboration with three other Black-led theatre institutions: the CRAFT Institute, Plowshares Theatre Company, and WACO Theater Center. In addition to the grants, the project will launch  a cohort of six national networks and coalitions to meet twice a year to collaborate on advancing the Black theater field and a national marketing campaign will share the story of Black theater in America.


“Through the years since our founding in 1976, there have been literally hundreds of Black led theatre companies that came on the scene and then disappeared, but with the support of our audiences, we are still here,” said Ron Himes, the Black Rep’s Founder and Producing Director. “The Black Seed is pointing the way to the future. We’re honored to be a part of this cohort.”


The Initiative aims to provide direct funding to help Black theatres forge national partnerships and new commissions rather than directing funds to increasing BIPOC representation at historically white institutions.Organizations were awarded one to three year grants ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. The Black Rep received $137,500 over two years.


“This support has come at a critical time for The Black Rep as we approach our 45th anniversary season,” said Dr. Jonathan Smith, President of the Board and Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at St. Louis University. “WIth the help of The Black Seed, we will emerge stronger.” 




About The St Louis Black Repertory Company


Founded in 1976 by Producing Director Ron Himes, The Black Rep is one of the largest, professional African-American theatre companies in the nation and the largest African-American professional performing arts organization in Missouri. Quality professional dramas, comedies and musicals by primarily African-American and third world playwrights are produced. Mainstage productions and education programs combine to reach more than 80,000 people annually.