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Black Spectrum Theatre Co., Inc. (718) 723-1800 or
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To stimulate social and cultural consciousness through the production and presentation of message-oriented theatre and films, and to help children and youth develop into responsible citizens through affordable theatre arts. Black Spectrum’s primary programs goals are:
Writer, producer, filmmaker and visionary Carl Clay, founded Black Spectrum Theatre in 1970 to bring African-American cultural expression and the American contemporary theater and film to the community.
Black Spectrum Theatre Company produces and presents theatre, films, and videos examining issues of social significance to the African-American community. At our 325-seat state-of-art theatre, we serve more than 20,000 audience members annually. We reach many thousands more through our nationally distributed social issue video series, mobile stage and school residencies programs.
Black Spectrum is the only professional theatre company reaching out to people of African descent in Queens NY. We serve the large African-American, Caribbean-American, and the Latino populations of Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, and Laurelton, and diverse audiences throughout the country.
Since 2003 Black Spectrum’s Professional Theatre Company has received 5 prestigious invitations to perform such as Award winning plays as: Piano Lesson, Kingfish, Willie & Esther,& Single Black Female at the Nat’l Theater Festival in North Carolina. The theatre’s founder and Resident Director Bette Howard received Nat’l awards for excellence in Producing & Directing. Each Season BSTC produces 4 Main Stage performances. Since 1979 BSTC has presented over 1,500 performances of more than 150 theatrical productions and garnered critical acclaim in dozens of major newspapers and media outlets, including The New York Times, Ch.4,Ch.7 , Like it Is-TV, American Theatre Maginzine to name a few. BSTC conducts after school programs for at-risk children and youth. Over the last 3 years, Black Spectrum has operated an experimental theatre arts conflict resolution program with the NYC Board of Education for JHS students suspended from the school system. Our programs for children and youth include our Youth and Children’s Theatre Company, our Summer Theatre Camp, our Children’s and Youth Theatre Institute, and our Video Series and Interactive Theatre and Video Learning Center.
Carl Clay, a play writer, director, and filmmaker, who is today its Executive Producer, founded Black Spectrum Theatre Company as a traveling theatrical troupe in 1970. Since that time, BSTC has grown into a multifaceted performing arts and media company that has produced and presented over 150 plays, 30 films, and numerous works of music, dance, and performance art.
In 1986, BSTC moved into its own 325-seat state-of-the-art theatre, located in a city-owned recreation complex in Roy Wilkins Park, 3 miles south of downtown Jamaica, Queens. The theatre is equipped to double as a film and video studio. We maintain our administration offices, rehearsal space, and a small cabaret theatre within the complex as well. In addition to the Executive Producer, BSTC employs 4 full-time staffers and six part-time workers as well as many actors, writers, musicians, artists, and technicians.
Black Spectrum operates as a non-profit organization with an annual budget of over $600,000. It receives volunteer support from its board, community members, and Youth Company parents, as well as funding from individuals, government foundations, and corporations. Black Spectrum is currently carrying out a capacity-building program with the support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Community Trust, and the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, which has awarded BSTC a two-year $60,000 stabilization grant. In 2010, BSTC was awarded a $1.3 million capitol grant from State Senators Shirley Huntley & Malcolm Smith to improve its facility and grow its audience capacity.
In December 1998, we were honored by Ms. Ruby Dee and Mr. Ossie Davis, who celebrated their 50th Anniversary with a gala benefit that raised $20,000 for BSTC. In February 1999, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the NYC Department of Business Services awarded BSTC a Community Enterprise Award in recognition of our contributions to the social and cultural fabric of New York. In may 2000, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to support our programs for young people. Since July 1999, the New York City Council has awarded $750,000 in capital grants to launch our Spectrum Theatre on Wheels.
In the fiscal year 2001, BSTC was awarded a two-year capacity building grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
During June 2000, BSTC celebrated its 30th Anniversary with gala events featuring theater and music celebrities including Ruby Dee, Angela Bofill, and Roy Ayers. The event also showcased a special performance inaugurating the Spectrum Theatre on Wheels Mobile Stage and Repertory Company.
On Dec.11th 2010, BSTC celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a gala event featuring BSTC alumnus Iris Wilson (Principal dancer in “Fela” on Broadway) and Cinema Icon, Melvin Van Peebles.
The sculpture was created by the renowned artist Inge Hardison – See Negro "Giants" in History . It was created in 1985. I wanted a three dimensional presentation of our Logo. Ms. Hardison who was getting along in age at the time, smiled and said young man I think I know what you mean. Talented, extremely knowledgeable of African history, she took on our project because she loved the theatre. Everyone who touches a Spectrum I believe is transformed. Art, history and creativity springs from the lips and eyes. We will forever be proud of this wonderful contribution Ms.Hardison made to Black Spectrum Theatre at a very early stage in our history. This work represents Black Spectrum and the beauty of our culture. If you listen closely you can hear the sounds that come from its mouth and be touched by the gleaming gaze of its eyes. Yes, this is exactly what every artist feels when they are creating plays, music, songs, poetry and films about something meaningful and beautiful.
View Press coverage from Various Theatre and Concert Events
Queens Chronicle, 2010
Edgy as always, comic Paul Mooney hits Jamaica
Queens Tribune, 2010
Theatre Thriving After Four Decades of Shows
Times Ledger, 2010
United Queens theater cos. could stand taller than ever
New York Trend, 2010
Dick Gregory Scolded, Prodded and Rallied Us "For Change"
Salute to Community Heroes
Queens Tribune, 2010
New Voice of New York, 2008
Gleaner Extra, 2004
Board of Trustees
"I offer my shoulder for the new generation of Artist to stand on, as I have stood on the shoulders of my Ancestors and Mentors!" ― Carl Clay, Founder
Carl Clay has been a significant force in the theater and independent film movement in the U.S. for almost two decades, during which times his creative use of theater, film, video and music have resulted in numerous awards. As Founder and Executive Producer of Black Spectrum Theatre, he has produced over 100 theatrical productions that have been performed in New York City and throughout the United States. His motion pictures and videos have been screened at various national and international TV and film festivals. Often referred to be a multi-talented creative force, Carl Clay has produced a total of 17 short and featured length films, several of which are included in the video library. Recently, in acknowledgement of his social marketing skills, he was awarded the 1999 Community Enterprise Award for Community Spirit by the City of New York.
As the Founder and CEO of Black Spectrum Theatre, Mr. Clay has produced over 150 plays, trained well over 1,000 actors and written and directed 20 films aimed at Urban Youth. His feature length film is on video at blockbusters. He’s produced over 20 jazz concerts with such artist as Roy Ayers and Roberta Flack. To his credit, Mr. Clay helped launched the careers of such notable actors as Lisa Carson (Ally McBeal Show) in her first feature film, Desiree Coleman (Mamma I want to sing), David Baptist (WB Network) and Byron Mims (Fences on Broadway).
He’s been awarded an AUDELCO AWARD for production of the year for the theatre production Deadwood Dick Legend of the West. He’s received an ASCAP music Lyricist awards for his songs in the motion picture Coffy and 1st place Lyricist award in the Annual Women’s Media for the ABCTV Special Turkey Treasure. He’s also received a National Library Association Award for his ground breaking film, and TV Festival Bronze Medal Award for The Follower and Clear Vision, two films about male responsibility in teen pregnancy.
In 2000 and 2001, Mr. Clay’s film Urban Encounters (What to do if you get stopped by the police) and Justice is Done were given National Black Programming PBS Awards for outstanding youth programming. Mr. Clay has also been a recipient of numerous city, state and civic citations for outstanding professional achievement. Mr. Clay has served as a volunteer for the National March Of Dimes, The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, The New York City Teen Pregnancy Task Force, Operation Read Aloud and The American Health Foundation. He’s a member of the Los Angeles IATSE Union, a Price Hall Mason, a Board Member of the Madam C. J. Walker Organization, and the New Dutch Reform Church Performing Arts Center.
Gerald Van Heerden
A copy of the latest annual financial report may be obtained by writing to: New York State Office of Charities Registration, Albany, NY 12231
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