Our theatres remain closed to the public. All events and programming are held virtually.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery on June 19, 1865 - the day when all African Americans became free. Cleveland’s Freedom Fest is set to become an annual destination event in the heart of Downtown Cleveland, poised to position our community as a national leader in celebrating Juneteenth.
IN THE SUMMER OF 2020
After the June 2020 protests in Downtown Cleveland and subsequent community recognition of and pledge to actively combat racism as a public health crisis, Downtown Cleveland Alliance along with Ingenuity Cleveland, Land Studio, Karamu House, Cleveland Public Library, Destination Cleveland and the City of Cleveland formed the #VoicesofCLE Public Art Project.
This project set out initially to help beautify boarded-up windows throughout the city center. It engaged local artists of color – providing a platform to amplify voices, spark conversation and uplift the community as we looked for ways to unite and heal. The project complemented an original theatrical production by Karamu House, the country’s oldest African American producing theatre, on June 19, 2020. Entitled “Freedom on Juneteenth,” an original theatrical production and artistic response to the recent murders of Black Americans through music, dance and spoken word – instantly becoming a nationally-recognized and viral video.
COMING TOGETHER FOR THE SUMMER OF 2021
As our organizations found pathways to advance the community in a time when our country was suffering from the effects of the global pandemic, we began to talk about how the community could coalesce around Juneteenth in 2021.
Today Karamu House, along with Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Ingenuity Cleveland and other supporters have collaborated again to introduce Cleveland’s first Juneteenth Freedom Fest. The group’s aim is to educate, celebrate, and activate participants around the history of African American culture.
Unlike other long-tenured arts and culture institutions in Cleveland, this will be Karamu’s first time taking center stage in the heart of the city, and organizers are thrilled to leverage our collective expertise to make this dream a reality. As Karamu looks to restore its in-person performances after a year of virtual-only artistic presentations, we are thrilled to donate all Freedom Fest proceeds to Karamu House and the next generation of world-renowned artists groomed right here in Cleveland.
One year ago, we all pledged to act and do things differently – to create a place that reflects the deep roots and rich history that makes Cleveland so unique. Today, we hope you will choose to join us in this city-wide celebration of Juneteenth and the rich historical presence of African American arts and culture Cleveland offers.