The New Freedom Theatre’s mission is “to chronicle African-American History in the performing arts”. John E. Allen Jr founded the Freedom Theater in a North Philadelphia storefront in 1966 with the support of the Black People’s Unity Movement.
The goal of the project was to celebrate the past, present and future of the theatre. Photographer Shawn Theodore’s work was selected because it “broaden[s] Black figurative representation beyond simplistic futuristic ideation, and to decolonize postmodern African American photography.” These photographs were specifically selected because of their power and use of light and space, which are all values in the theatre. They are in intimate conversation with each other yet present out to the audience, mirroring performers on a stage.
The New Freedom Theatre building is historic and cannot be painted on so Mural Arts found a solution by working with Roe Fabrication to make the murals on vinyl banners framed to the walls. This creative approach opened the opportunity for the murals to be changed so the New Freedom Theatre will feature new murals every few years.