Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI)

The Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.) leverages the creative and communal power of the arts as a vehicle to bring about social transformation. Through theatrical productions, curated events, public conversations, and community-engaged practice, we seek to connect communities to the cultural and artistic legacy of the African Diaspora.

A.R.T.I. was developed in 2018 to examine, document, showcase, and convey the history, cultural life, and politics of peoples of the African Diaspora (itself consisting of multiple, overlapping diasporas). A.R.T.I.’s deep commitment to and focus on arts, educational, and community engagement leverages art and arts learning to address the connectedness of Black subject identities, experiences, themes, issues, topics, as well as explore the stories, memories, legacies, linkages, and contributions of peoples of the African Diaspora. Additionally, A.R.T.I. curates artistic and educational programs that are purposeful, expansive, and culturally insistent as a means of exploring the human condition through the prism of the Black world experience.

A.R.T.I. has four focus areas. First, it offers public performances as a form of arts engagement to both expand the reach of the arts and contribute to community social wealth. Second, it focuses on outreach and marketing, creates pathways to connect the IUPUI campus to the community. Third, it develops opportunities for local arts and students to explore career and postsecondary experiences in Black theatre. Finally, it conducts research to understand the social, cultural, and academic impact of a more representative arts sector.

As a public arts initiative, A.R.T.I. has a deep commitment and focus on artistic and community engagement, as well as using the arts to explore, interpret, and understand the human condition. The arts and culture are essential means by which people share their experiences, make sense of their lives, build bridges across divides, and realize their common humanity.

A.R.T.I.’s institutional home is in the new Center for Africana Studies and Culture in the School of Liberal Arts, which is structured to complement the Africana Studies Program’s theoretical instructional work by solidifying its praxis arm. The Center and its initiatives work to increase participation of Black students in high impact practices (HIPs) essential to college success and expose all students to Black cultural programming and research. The Center does this through public scholarship, professional learning, undergraduate research, and community-engaged cultural and research programming that celebrates the richness of the Black experience and fostering space for student inquiry and activity. A.R.T.I.’s leaders hold faculty positions in the Africana Studies program so students have opportunities to engage with the Center and A.R.T.I. through the curriculum.

The primary audiences for and participants of A.R.T.I.’s work as a university-based theater reflect the diversity of its placement in an urban center. The Center’s placement in the newly renovated Madam Walker Theatre will provide a community-centered base of operation for the initiatives that focuses on providing a space for the community to engage. The Center engages deeply with the Central Indiana community through a strong partnership with the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement and IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute. Thus, A.R.T.I. engages IUPUI students, staff, and faculty, school-aged children, and the local community but also is situated well to reach beyond.

A.R.T.I. Initiatives

Black Theater Studies Courses

In conjunction with the IUPUI Applied Theater program through the School of Liberal Arts, students’ study:

  • Black Acting Methods
  • Black Playwriting
  • Black Radical Theater for Social Change
  • History, Cultural Signifiers and Value of Black Theater


Onyxfest is Indiana’s first and only Theater Festival focused on Black Playwrights, in partnership with the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and IU School of Education at IUPUI.

The 2021 season featured five productions under the direction of Vernon Williams.

For more information, contact OnyxFest, Cavanaugh Hall – Room 327, 317-274-8710.

Triple D Theater

Decisions, Decide, Destiny Theater Ensemble is A.R.T.I.’s student troupe.

A.R.T.I. also runs workshops and gatherings for Black theater practitioners around Indianapolis.

More Info

Contact Les Etienne, CASC Founding Executive Director.