Illustration by Robert Samuel Hanson

National Black Theatre

The National Black Theatre (NBT), founded by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer in 1968, produces transformational theatrical experiences that enhance African American cultural identity by telling authentic stories of the Black experience. NBT uses theater arts as a means to educate, enrich, entertain, empower & inform the national conscience around current social issues impacting our communities. It also provides a safe space for artists of color to articulate the complexity, beauty & artistic excellence intrinsic in how we experience the world in the domain of acting, directing, producing, designing, playwriting and entrepreneurial autonomy.

About the Feature Project

Ray is partnering with the National Black Theatre for its flagship building on the historic corner of 125th and 5th Avenue. The project will intersect commerce with civic conversation of Black culture as well as Ray’s new residential concept. NBT and Ray are working together to create a mixed-use space that will both celebrate and amplify the historical and present community in Harlem. Anchored in thoughtful design and creative collaboration, NBT and Ray are committed to creating the built spaces of the future that center community through intentional collision spaces, activated retail, a large-scale events venue, the creation of the next iteration of the National Black Theatre, and the flagship Ray residence. The teams will also work together on creative programming both in the lead up to and activation of their shared home.

Shared Values of the Partnership

Equitable Action: We are committed to sharing power in process, decision making, and the creation of services that benefit the communities we serve. Ultimately, we are interested in advancing outcomes that are equitable for all partners and the diverse communities with which we engage.

Deep Listening: We recognize that impactful change, healing, and transformation lack integrity and substance without incorporating a practice of deep listening. Deep listening helps us be responsive so we can foster a clarity of purpose, support an ongoing foundation for trust-building, and ensure the work we co-create is effective and meaningful. It also creates conditions for parity, reflection, and constant integration.

Courage: At the core of this partnership is a heart-centered practice and an innate desire to imagine, design, and manifest bold and ambitious endeavors. This commitment to expanding possibility creates the generative and compassionate space to fail forward, make adjustments, and constantly grow together.

Access: Our partnership creates opportunities to amplify voices that have not received generous attention. We are committed to co-creating a future with broader access to resources. We focus on the built environment and the process of creative placemaking as a platform for providing access.

Creative Expression: We value the unique power that creativity, artistry, and culture allow us to realize the fullness of our humanity. We believe creative expression is one of the most fundamental ways to realize our full potential, bridge differences, and fuel our own healing in service of individual and collective transformation.