The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 S. Main St., is spotlighting the contributions of women and family heritage at the third annual Crossroad Festival.
The event will be held from 1-8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7. Several Pine Bluff Area gospel groups will perform from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.
ASC’s annual event explores Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas’ cultural heritage. The festival highlights different cultural groups that have made a lasting impact on Southeast Arkansas, according to a news release.
This year’s festival focuses on the historical and cultural contributions made by women of the Southeast Arkansas Delta with an overarching theme of “family ties.”
The Crossroad Festival events March 7 include:
• 1-3 p.m. “Family Stories and Family Movie Maker.”
This youth program encourages visitors of all ages to bring their family stories to life with hands-on activities. Visitors can design their own “family movie maker” and perform in interactive “family album” skits.
Inspired by ASC’s project and exhibition “Heritage Detectives: Discovering Arkansas’s Hidden Heritage,” this program encourages community members to consider and record their family and area’s history. “Heritage Detectives” placed a historian and artist in Pine Bluff, Dumas, McGehee and Lake Village classrooms to uncover and depict the diverse cultural influences of Southeast Arkansas. Students drew scenes depicting events, people and places that contributed to the culture and history of their communities, according to the news release.
ASC Public Programs Coordinator Shakeelah Rahmaan and ASC Theater Education Coordinator Lindsey Collins will lead this program.
• 3:30-5 p.m. “Women of the Arkansas Delta.”
This program focuses on the 1976 oral history project by the Pine Bluff Women’s Center. ASC Curator Chaney Jewell will address the project’s history, interpretation of the collection for ASC’s 2019 exhibit, and forthcoming touring exhibition based on the project. The program will also explore the lives of some of the women featured in the 1976 oral history project.
The Pine Bluff Women’s Center, through a grant by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission in 1970s, sought to “gather, preserve, and publish information about women of the Delta, their history and lives.” They documented social justice activists, farmers and small business owners — African American and white, according to the release.
Curatorial staff discovered the original photography prints, negatives and publication in ASC’s Permanent Collection in 2018. The “Women of the Arkansas Delta” materials became the basis of a 2019 ASC exhibition of the same name, and a touring exhibition launching in March 2020.
• 6:30-8:30 p.m. “Gospel Women in Harmony: A Legacy of Female Quartets in Pine Bluff.”
Jimmy Cunningham of the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Alliance will lead this program exploring the area’s tradition of female gospel singers. The evening will feature performances by The Spiritualettes, Sweet Melody and The Williams Singers.
This musical experience explores the long history of female gospel quartets in Pine Bluff, particularly in the African American singing tradition.
“The voices of women in quartets have long been a powerful element in the gospel tradition,” a spokesman said. “However, with some exceptions, women have not always received their due for so many innovations in this field. With the help of contemporary female gospel quartets from the Pine Bluff area, the Crossroad Festival celebrates local singing traditions that go back decades and provides a historical backdrop for their evolution.”
CROSSROAD FESTIVAL HISTORY
The Arts & Science Center launched the Crossroad Festival in 2018, concentrating on the region’s French, Quapaw Indian and African American cultural heritage. In 2019, the African American, French, and Chinese communities were the focus.
“The goal for the Crossroad Festival is always to enrich and contribute to the current body of knowledge on the area’s cultural heritage, engage its community, and introduce new people to the region’s fascinating history,” said ASC Executive Director Rachel Miller. “This rich heritage is what sets Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas apart from the rest of the state.”
The 2020 festival is made possible in part by grants and sponsorships from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Entergy Arkansas.
Details: asc701.org/crossroad-festival or 870-536-3375.