The third annual Arts & Science Center of Southeast Arkansas’s Crossroad Festival will be presented from 1 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 in Pine Bluff. The festival explores the cultural heritage of Jefferson County, the Southeast Arkansas Delta, and more specifically this year, the impact of women in the area. Through history, music and performing arts, the 2020 event will also highlight “family ties.”
ASC Executive Director, Dr. Rachel Miller, said in a press release, “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. This rich heritage is what sets Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas apart from the rest of the state.”
The day will begin with “Family Stories and Family Movie Maker” from 1 to 3 p.m. During the segment guests can use interactive means to share their family stories with “family movie maker” designs or “family album” skits.
The program was inspired by “Heritage Detectives: Discovering Arkansas’s Hidden Heritage,” a project put on by the ASC. An artist and historian were placed in Pine Bluff, Dumas and Lake Village schools to “uncover and depict the diverse cultural influences of Southeast Arkansas,” according to a press release.
This portion of the festival will be led by Shakeelah Rahmaan, ASC Public Programs coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, ASC Theater Education coordinator.
From 3:30 to 5 p.m., a “Women of the Arkansas Delta” discourse will detail a 1976 oral history project put together by the Pine Bluff Women’s Center. The recently discovered photography prints, negatives and publications of ‘76 featured regional social activists, farmers and small business owners of African American and white descent. Chaney Jewell, ASC curator, will explain the project’s history, interpret the 2019 inspired ASC collection and foreshadow the upcoming March 2020 tour exhibition.
The 1976 project was originally made possible through a grant from the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission in the 1970s to, according to a press release, “gather, preserve, and publish information about women of the Delta, their history and lives.”
Concluding the festival from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., “Gospel Women in Harmony: A Legacy of Female Quartets in Pine Bluff” will explore the long history of female gospel singers in the area. Led by Jimmy Cunningham of the Delta Rhythm and Bayous Alliance, this portion celebrates “local singing traditions that go back decades and provides a historical backdrop for their evolution,” according to a press release.
The Crossroad Festival began in 2018, showcasing the area’s French, Quapaw Indian and African American cultural heritage and the African American, French, and Chinese communities in 2019.
Sponsorships and grants from the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Entergy Arkansas have made this festival free and open to the public.
For more information regarding the Crossroad Festival or the ASC, visit asc701.org or call 870-536-3375.