WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The National Black Theater Festival is decking the Triad in purple and black for its 15th celebration in Winston-Salem, produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company.

The Festival kicked off Monday, July 31 at noon with a full house at the opening press conference, introducing this year’s key members and guests.

“You are o Black theater holy ground,” said Brian McLaughlin, referencing the festival’s slogan, in the opening remarks of the conference.

Emmy Award-winning Obba Babatunde and Emmy Award nominee Anna Maria Horsford will serve as the festival’s celebrity co-chairs.

Over 32 performances and events are scheduled throughout Winston-Salem from Monday, July 31 to Saturday, August 5th showcasing local and national Black thespian excellence.

According to President of Visit Winston-Salem, Richard Geiger, the event not only promotes local talent, but selling an estimated 60,000 tickets every year and filling around 35,000 hotel rooms brings good business to the city as well.

“Between staying in hotels, the theater, eating at our restaurants, shopping, and all the other types of things these people will do, when they’re town they’ll leave an excess of $8 million dollars in terms of economic impact,” Geiger said.

Geiger believes this year will not be the exception, and even more so because of the international attention the festival receives and brings to the city.

“We wanna make sure that people come here and have a great time,” he added. “People come here to feel welcome.”