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NBAF in miniature 

"Summer Celebration for Youth and Families" is festival's test bid for annual programming

Atlanta's National Black Arts Festival comes around only every other summer, but this weekend NBAF takes its first big stab at an "off year" event. Organizers are putting on a "Summer Celebration for Youth and Families" Thursday through Saturday, centered around a remounting of the Children's Education Village, which associate festival producer Laura Greer says was a big hit last summer.

"We were overwhelmed with success last year and realized there was need in Atlanta for this kind of program for young people," Greer says. "So, we thought we would test out a couple of different ideas this summer that we could institute for the next festival."

The Education Village gives kids a walk-through of African-American history, from enslavement to emancipation. But "Summer Celebration" also includes a film series, book fair, storytelling, an activity tent and performances by Chicago's Muntu African Dance Company and Atlanta's Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble. Such variety makes "Summer Celebration" sound a little like the National Black Arts Festival itself, albeit on a smaller scale and aimed at children. Greer says the event is a trial run to see if NBAF is ready to go yearly, but more importantly, it's a test of the festival's family-centered programming.

The National Black Arts Festival's "Summer Celebration for Youth and Families" takes place July 19-21 on the campuses of Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. Thursday and Friday are reserved for groups, but Saturday is open to the public noon-6 p.m. $2 general admission, $5-$10 for ticketed performances. For a complete lineup of events, see www.nbaf.org

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