Posted on:August 1, 2012
Featured Organization August 2012
Name/Title: Sewaa Codrington / Cofounder and Director
When was the organization founded and by whom?
The organization was founded in 1991 by Sewaa Codrington and Aicha Diop.
Where in Brooklyn are you located?
Unfortunately, for the past two years, KowTeff has not had a permanent home. After being a co-locater within the Beacon Program of the New York City Department of Education for approximately 10 years, the rules for the program changed. It became necessary for co-locaters to allow the public to participate in their activities. As a professional company, it was no longer possible for us to be co-locaters within Beacon schools. We have networked with churches and other private and public organizations that own or control venues currently to no avail. Hence, KowTeff has moved around renting space wherever available from the limited number of studios that accept live drumming. We have been fortunate to be allowed to frequently rent rehearsal space for the months of April through June at the Elijah Muhammad Enlightenment Center 120 Madison Street in the community of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Who is your primary audience?
The KowTeff organization familiarizes national and international audiences with the history and culture of the African Diaspora. In addition, our performances, workshops and classes and community programs uplift and empower People of African descent.
KowTeff African Dance Company and KowTeff School of African Dance’s primary audience are those who are interested in traditional African dance. The major group that supports our art form is people from the African Diaspora. In addition, there are people from the national and international community who have been exposed to and appreciate the art form. This population constitutes a small percentage of our audience.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of running an arts organization in Brooklyn?
The most challenging aspect of running an arts organization in Brooklyn is operating an institution that falls within the category of “folk”. The overall opportunities are much more limited than the favorable circumstances available to mainstream groups.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of running an arts organization in Brooklyn?
The most gratifying aspect of operating an arts organization in Brooklyn is that the arts can be utilized for a substantial array of purposes that include enjoyment, relaxation, education, as well as a wide range of additional objectives. The diversity of the Brooklyn population increases these opportunities.
What do you see as the biggest issues facing the arts community today?
My perspective is that the most monumental quandaries facing the arts community today are related to the current status of the economy. During times of recession, the arts community is one of the first and one of the most severely devastated populations affected by monetary cuts in budgets and funding.
Do you have any major events, projects or expansions on the horizon?
KowTeff African Dance Company and School of African Dance is working towards expanding and embellishing its next Juneteenth Celebration for our upcoming season. This year’s second annual event (which has just been completed) was extremely successful in furthering an important part of the organizations mission: to provide inspiring opportunities for people of African descent to celebrate and gain knowledge of their rich African heritage, develop a positive cultural identity and self-pride, and reclaim values and customs that promote healthy development of body, mind, spirit, and community.
In addition, for a nominal fee (in the spirit of Juneteenth being affordable to all) a special Juneteenth program and performance was facilitated by KowTeff African Dance Company. It is the organizations goal to work towards expanding the event.