THE BILLIE IS ONE OF THE LAST REMAINING THEATERS FORGED IN THE AESTHETIC AND SOCIOCULTURAL KILN OF AMERICA’S CIVIL RIGHTS/BLACK ARTS MOVEMENTS.

The Obie and AUDELCO Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre is a state-of-the-art creative campus located at Restoration Plaza in the historic Black cultural mecca of Bedford Stuyvesant, home to such artistic luminaries as Lena Horne, Max Roach, Eubie Blake, Stepahnie Mills, Ben Vereen, Jay Z, Yasiin Bey, and more and the only multi-platform performing arts center with a 22-year old education program led by, for, and accountable to people of African descent in the heart of the largest African American community in the nation: Central Brooklyn. For 50 years, The Billie has elevated and promoted the critical voices of Black artists, and the stories of the complex journey toward freedom for people of African descent, a journey that is far from over. 

“…a neighborhood jewel and one of the nation’s premier Black playhouses.”
– New York Daily News

“An unsung institution of our own distinction which produces some of the best dramatic productions in the country, a monument — more deserving than the great white way.”
– The Crisis

HISTORY

In 1981, BHT made history when it transferred the hit play Inacent Black to Broadway with fifty percent of the financing being derived from the Black community; a first in the theatre world (as cited in The New York Times), and unheard of prior to Inacent Black.

Many of today’s successful actors, writers, designers, and musicians developed their craft at The Billie Holiday Theatre. Actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Tichina Arnold, Bill Cobbs, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Carol Woods, Elaine Graham and Ebony JoAnn to name but a few.

The legendary William “Smokey” Robinson had his first musical, Raisin’ Hell, produced at BHT, while other notable authors whose debut plays were produced at BHT include: Samm Art Williams, legendary jazz musician Weldon Irvine, and John Henry Redwood (The Old Settler).

MISSION

The goal of the Billie Holiday Theatre is to provide audiences with complete and authentic portrayals of the experiences of people of African descent across the world. To provide artists of African descent pure and unapologetic artistic freedom. We do this by producing and presenting all forms of art, and by challenging unjust systems that would prevent artists, institutions, and communities full access to world-class arts, creative spaces, and resources.

A Letter From The Billie Holiday Theatre:

 So much of what makes this country rich in art and all manners of spiritual life is the contributions that we as African Americans have made. To give expression to the spirit that has been shaped and fashioned by our history is of necessity to give voice and vent to the history itself. It must remain for us a history of triumph.” – August Wilson

With this year marking a particularly special milestone for The Billie as we prepare to celebrate our 50th Anniversary season, the institution remains committed to presenting world class theater for our community and to amplifying Black voices, Black stories and Black genius. For five decades, The Billie has stood firmly as a beacon for artistic brilliance and innovation rooted in social justice and we are excited to build on that legacy as a thriving multi platform performing arts destination located in the heart of Bed-Stuy.

As we look ahead, The Billie will continue to be dedicated to providing our community with complete and authentic portrayals of the experiences of people of African descent across the world and providing artists of African descent pure and unapologetic artistic freedom. We produce and present all forms of art and education while challenging unjust systems that would prevent artists, institutions, and communities full access to world-class, creative spaces, and resources.

We look forward to returning to live performances and events this Season and invite you to join us on this journey as we have so many exciting announcements to share over the coming months. We are delighted to be back with you, in this our 50th anniversary year, as we present Our Stories, Our Truth at The Billie, Our Theater.

-The Billie Team

BOARD MEMBERS

Antonia Yuille Williams

Antonia Yuille Williams

Board Chair, Director of Public Affairs, Brooklyn Division Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc. 

Depelsha McGruder

Depelsha McGruder

Director, Board of Directors, The Billie Chief Operating Officer, Ford Foundation

Colvin Grannum

Colvin Grannum

Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, The Billie President and CEO, Bedford Stuy Restoration Corporation

Wendell Pierce

Wendell Pierce

Actor producer; founder Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corporation

Kerry McCarthy

Kerry McCarthy

VP for Philanthropic Initiatives, The New York Community Trust, Mosaic Network and Fund

Blondel Pinnock

Blondel Pinnock

President & CEO, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Dr. Durell Cooper

Dr. Durell Cooper

Founder & CEO, Cultural Innovation Group

Taneshia Nash Laird

Taneshia Nash Laird

President & CEO, Newark Symphony Hall

Kibra Yohannes

Kibra Yohannes

Program Associate, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

THE BILLIE REIMAGINING ADVISORY COMMITTEE

  • Pauletta Pearson Washington, Co-Chair, Actress and Philanthropist
  • Antonia Yuillie Williams, Co-Chair, Director of Public Affairs, Brooklyn Division Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc.
  • Cey Adams, Internationally renowned creative director and visual artist
  • Camille Brown, Tony Award-nominated choreographer
  • Karen Brooks Hopkins, President Emerita, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Jerome L Greene Foundation Board Member; Senior Advisor to the Onassis Foundation
  • Stephen Byrd, Co-Founder, Front Row Productions; 2019 Broadway Global Producer of the Year
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson, Award-winning actor, professor, and leading expert on August Wilson
  • Tonya Lewis Lee, American film and television producer, author, entrepreneur and advocate for women
  • Dawnn Lewis, Award-winning TV, film and Broadway actress, as well as founder of non-profit for youth empowerment
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  • Kamilah Long, Interim Senior Director of Individual Giving & Development Operations, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
  • Dafina McMillan, Co-founder Crux VR
  • Lynne Nottage, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
  • Fiona Rudin, Board Chair, 42nd Street Theaters
  • Lauren Ruffin, Co-founder Crux VR; nonprofit and for-profit policy, marketing, business development, and strategic planning expert
  • Carl Hancock Rux, Brooklyn-based, award-winning writer and performance artist
    Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tony Award-winning Director, leading August Wilson interpreter
  • Michele Shay, Tony Award-winning actor and director; Professor at NYU, Juilliard, and Columbia
  • Mikki Shepard, Chairman of the Board, Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Tony Award Nominating Committee (2018-19)
  • Laura Walker, Former President & CEO, New York Public Radio; Executive Fellow, Yale School of Management

STAFF

JELANI BUCKNER
Managing Director, jbuckner@restorationplaza.org 

HOLLIS KING
Creative Director, hking@restorationplaza.org

SABINE LAFORTUNE
General Manager, slafortune@restorationplaza.org

MARTHA SAMUEL
Director of Finance, bhtaccounting@restorationplaza.org

GEORGE T. GARY
Director of Marketing, ggary@restorationplaza.org 

NINA FLOWERS
Public Relations Lead, nflowers@restorationplaza.org 

ARCELL CABUAG
Director of Education, acabuag@restorationplaza.org 

KARLVY SMITH
Development & Administrative Manager, ksmith@restorationplaza.org

EDNA FULTON
Community Connections Manager, efulton@restorationplaza.org 

KAREN THORNTON
Youth Arts Academy Program Manager, kthornton@restorationplaza.org 

SHEVRON GOFFE
Administrative Assistant

NAOMI JOHNSON
Administrative Assistant

The Billie Holiday Theatre Stage

IN THE NEWS