About

Preserving + promoting Black culture

The African American Arts Institute (AAAI) is the nation's first and only credit-bearing university program dedicated to the performance and promotion of Black music and dance. Its mission is to preserve and promote African American culture through performance, creative activity, education, research, and outreach. The AAAI features:

Dr. Charles Sykes, Executive Director of the African American Arts Institute

The experiences that we provide our students in the African American Arts Institute underscore the power of the arts to give purpose and change lives.

Charles Sykes, Executive Director of African American Arts Insitute

10,000+people served annually through performances, workshops, and events

30performances presented annually to local, national, and international audiences

4international tours to China, Germany, Cuba, and Jamaica from 2015–17

A legacy of excellence since 1971

Herman C. Hudson, one of IU's first African American leaders and founding chair of what is now the African American and African Diaspora Studies department (formally Afro-American Studies), recognized that student talent and interest in Black performance styles could foster ensembles as a vital part of academic coursework and the recruitment and retention of minority students. Hudson’s vision was first realized with the IU Soul Revue in 1971, the nation’s first academic course focused on the study and performance of Black popular music, then with the establishment of the African American Arts Institute in 1974. Today we continue to nurture Hudson's vision and legacy.

Learn more about our history

Our Home + Department

The IU Soul Revue rehearses in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

The African American Arts Institute's classrooms, rehearsal spaces, and offices are located in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on the IU Bloomington campus. The center connects IU to Black culture, promotes public awareness of the Black experience, and celebrates students’ academic and leadership achievements.

A student in discussion in front of a computer.

Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS)

Our performing ensembles are courses offered for credit through the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies (AAADS). AAADS explores and contributes to the wide range of research and scholarly opinion on the history, culture, and social status of Black Americans and their African heritage.