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ARTE NOIR's Black Artist Roster is live and taking the top spot in this month’s newsletter. This new initiative is tailored specifically to connect Black artists more directly to arts opportunities.

Black graphic with golden yellow and white letters that reads "ARTE NOIR Black Artist Roster"

And what exactly is this Black Artist Roster, you ask? It is what it is called. A roster of Black artists working across a vast creative spectrum. We now have the ability to reach a specific group of artists to share available local, national, and international opportunities. In the past, we would often field inquiries seeking to reach Black artists. What we recognized is that our reach was limited to the folks we knew, which seemed quite unfair. Instead, we wanted to broaden the breadth and depth of our reach, hence the roster was born.

Our team, led by NaKeesa Frazier-Jennings of Nakeesa Marie Enterprises, a boutique-consulting firm for artist entrepreneurs, small business owners and job seekers, has been working to develop an easily accessible online platform for artists to submit their profiles, and for organizations and others to post opportunities. The roster can connect Black artists to information about artist residencies, visual arts commissions, production staff calls, performance requests, artist speakers, and more. Those seeking to connect to Black artists can submit information via our online platform, and we will share it among rostered artists.  

A Black woman in a red shirt smiles as she chats with a Black man at an art gallery.
NaKeesa Frazier-Jennings with her husband, artist George Jennings at an ARTE NOIR exhibit opening. Credit Hilary Northcraft

Yes, we are kind of the middle-person in all of this. The role our middle position plays is of aggregator and disseminator. When information comes from us, you know it is definitely FOR YOU! As a trusted Black-owned, Black-led arts organization, this roster is one way of increasing the health and vitality of the Black arts community across the state.

The roster also offers the ability for artists who are interested in participating in a speaker’s bureau to indicate such. The speaker’s bureau will help us to recommend artists who can be hired for speaking engagements, to serve as panelists, deliver training workshops and demonstrations. Including the voices of artists in civic debate has long been overlooked. We hope to shift and improve social impact by creating access to more creative thinkers.

Artists are now able to log into the free Black Artist Roster platform and upload their profile. The roster seeks to help eliminate the barriers to connection when it comes to hiring Black artists and creatives for various opportunities. When we collect available opportunities, we will share them with rostered artists via regular communication. It’s important to note that ARTE NOIR will NOT share artist information publicly. Rather, we will share opportunities, and artists are responsible for making direct responses, as desired.

Three Black women in vibrant outfits listen to an artist speak in a gallery
Community members gather to hear an artist talk from Aramis Hamer in the ARTE NOIR gallery space. Credit Hilary Northcraft

Before launching this roster, we sought the advice of those we seek to serve. A group of seasoned and wise artists beta tested our site and gave us valuable and positive feedback that has refined the entire concept for this pilot phase.

The Gathering Collaborative Grant to Address Racism as a Public Health Crisis generously supports this project. We recognize the significant value of creating a healthy arts community and the importance of enhancing earnings potential for Black artists, who in the past have been systemically overlooked for lucrative arts opportunities. The goal of this project is to increase access to opportunities while also amplifying the voices of artists. 

The roster will remain open for submissions through the end of September 2024, so now is the time to submit your profile, and/or share this information with an artist that may have an interest. The roster is open to Black artists 15 years of age and older, living or working in Washington state. The first 100 King County artists to submit a profile will receive a $25 ARTE NOIR gift card, good for use in person or online.

A sincere thanks you to everyone who has helped to guide this project into fruition. Together, this is one thing we CAN DO for Black artists!


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