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RI Black Storytellers’ 22nd Annual FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling.

The Newport Art Museum, in partnership with the Newport Health Equity Zone, is pleased to welcome the Rhode Island Black Storytellers’ 22nd Annual FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling for a multigenerational storytelling celebration in the Newport Art Museum’s galleries.

On Friday, January 31, 2020 from 5 – 8 pm, the Museum will host special guest and internationally renowned South African storyteller, freedom fighter, activist, playwright, and poet Gcina Mhlophe for a rare storytelling performance. Appropriate for story appreciators and writers of all ages, the evening will include interactive projects in the galleries, mini docent-led tours, collaborative poetry writing and micro-memoir crafting before and after Mhlophe’s performance. In honor of FUNDA, which means to teach and learn in Zulu and KiSwahili, the Museum invites guests to participate in this free special event, to discover the visual stories on display in the galleries, be inspired by Mhlophe’s charismatic telling of traditional South African tales, and reflect and contribute their own stories.

FUNDA FEST: A Celebration of Black Storytelling takes place in locations all over Rhode Island from January 25 – February 2.

The event is free and open to the public, and reservations are recommended at newportartmuseum.org.


5:00 pm Family-friendly storytelling activities and Mini-Tours in the galleries
6:00 pm Gcina Mhlophe FUNDA FEST Storytelling performance
7:00 pm Artwork-inspired collaborative poetry writing and micro-memoir writing facilitated by Gcina Mhlophe and more family-friendly activities in the galleries

The Museum is grateful to its partners and sponsors on this event: Newport Health Equity Zone, Rhode Island Black Storytellers, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

Learn more about RI Black Storytellers and FUNDA FEST at https://www.ribsfest.org/.

About Dr. Gcina Mhlophe

Gcina Mhlophe is an author, poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller. Influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child, Mhlophe’s written and performance talent has transported her from South Africa to South and North America, Europe, Greenland and Japan. She has performed her stories in theatres such as Royal Albert Hall and the Kennedy Centre, and has collaborated with internationally renowned groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo. She has received numerous awards including an OBIE, 7 Honorary Doctorate Awards, and the Kennedy Center International Artists Gold Award. She has worked tirelessly on the NOZINCWADI Mother of Books Literacy Campaign since 2001, to help make Africa a Reading Nation. She has released several award winning music CD’s and performed in several films, including the award winning film by Aaron Kopp called Liyana, which screened at the Newport Art Museum in 2019. Finally, October 24, Dr. Mhlophe’s birthday, is recognized as National Storytelling Day in South Africa in honor of her contributions to celebrating the heritage of African Storytelling.

About the RI Black Storytellers

Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the awareness, appreciation, and application of Black Storytelling in Rhode Island through performance, as well as through educational and cultural experiences. Throughout the year, the organization offers workshops in storytelling, writing, and related arts as a part of the development of the next generation of storytellers along with professional development workshops for those interested in enhancing cultural awareness, and improving their performances and communication skills. All these elements come together to create Funda Fest.

About the Newport Art Museum

Founded in 1912, The Newport Art Museum is one of the oldest continuously operating and most highly regarded art museums and schools of its kind in the country. The Art Museum offers a provocative diversity of creative voices in its historic Newport setting. Visitors can expect treasures from its permanent collection featuring American art from the late 19th century to the present, as well as programmed exhibitions of contemporary art. Dedicated Museum docents are available to offer guided tours of the campus and educate visitors on the architecture, artwork and history of the Museum. Artist Talks, film screenings, lectures and musical performances are scheduled throughout the year.

The Museum operates on a three-building campus, the main building being National Historic landmark, the John N.A. Griswold House. It was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, completed in 1864 and remains the premier example of American “Stick-Style” architecture. Richard Morris Hunt went on to design Marble House, The Breakers, Ochre Court, Belcourt Castle, and other landmarks in Newport and New York, including the base for the Statue of Liberty. Adjacent to the Griswold House is the Cushing Building, built in 1919, featuring two rotating galleries as well as the Cushing Memorial Gallery dedicated to the artist Howard Gardiner Cushing. Completing the three-building campus is the Art Museum’s art school, the Coleman Center for Creative Studies, which offers year-round art classes, camps and workshops, incorporates the Museum’s collection into its curriculum and focuses on art fundamentals as well as design, digital studies and continuing education for artists of all ages and interests. The Newport Art Museum is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays April – December until 7 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm, and from 10 am to 8 pm every second Thursday of the month for the Art After Dark programming. The Museum is closed to the public on Mondays. Museum membership levels and benefits, art school classes and registration, exhibition schedules, public programming, and more can be found at www.newportartmuseum.org. Phone: (401) 848-8200.

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