Community Artists Collective: 35 years of art advocacy, activism
Michelle Barnes

The Community Artists Collective (CAC), also known as “The Collective,” has had an impact far beyond its 35 years. To say the CAC has honored its mission “to provide the educational and cultural link among African American artists and all communities to inspire unlimited creativity” is an understatement.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the CAC will host “FestEve!35, A Night for the Arts” at the Decorative Center of Houston (5120 Woodway Dr. #3002, Houston, TX 77056) from 6p.m. – 10p.m. to celebrate the accomplishments of their past 35 and prepare for more impact in the future.  

“The Community Artists’ Collective was formed to create and facilitate support mechanisms for African American artists and make the arts more accessible to children and adults,” said Michelle Barnes, co-founder of the CAC. “These purposes still guide our program planning to address inequities that adversely affect our cultural community.

There is scarcely a Black artist, or artist of any color or creed for that matter, who hasn’t in some way been impacted by CAC’s presence and contributions to the artistic flavor of the Bayou City. And to that end, the organization is issuing a call to all who have assisted them in their nearly four decades of work or been served in some way by their programs to join their celebration this Saturday.

“As we have been engaged in building The Collective’s ship while navigating the seascape with an eye on the distant shore, there have been many memorable moments that have both propelled us forward and pulled us back,” said Barnes. “Through our programs, we work directly with people and see the lights in their eyes as they discover something about their creative selves through their respective experiences in the arts. We see confidence bloom and connections to universal truths grow.”

Barnes said a memorable setback was losing the CAC’s beloved facility in 2014 after working on a sustainability plan for 15 years.

“It was certainly heartbreaking, but as you can see, our oars are still in the water,” she added.

And with those oars still pressing forward, Barnes and the CAC team have their eyes set on the future.

“We are most looking forward to expanding our programs of excellence in education, exhibition, community development and entrepreneurship to serve more people and increase the quality of life for people who represent our cultural community,” said Barnes.

The FestEve!35 evening, which begins at 6 p.m. with a private VIP reception, will feature works by widely recognized visual artists, performing artists, dancing, a silent auction and food and libations.

The evening will feature works of art, performing artists, a silent and a live auction, a dinner and refreshments.

Clockwise from top left: Vocalist Jewel Brown, Shelly Carroll and Andre Haywood of the Jazz Ensemble, Bassist Composer Nic Allen, and Houston’s Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean.

Event co-chairs are Letitia Plummer, David Mincberg and Lainie Gordon, Shawn Taylor and Gerald Womack.

Individuals recognized with awards during the event will be Gaynell Drexler, “Art Patron of the Year”; Charles L. Washington, “Artist in Action”; and Donna Anderson, the “Beverly Harmon Service Award.”

Guests will be treated to an amazing array of entertainment during the evening, capturing the spirit of traditional to contemporary genres of the cultural community, including Houston’s poet laureate Outspoken Bean, the Carver High School stilt walkers, solo instrumentalists and vocalists, dance troupes and jazz bands.

Individual tickets are available at eventbrite.

In addition to individual tickets, Sponsorship and Support Circle levels are available by contacting mbarnes@thecollective.org. Please call 713-523-1616 or visit www.thecollective.org for more information