By Cori Lucas,
Theater, dance, and music has the unique power to heal communities, strengthen families and shape strong, confident individuals. WombWork is using that power to drive social change, and showing their youth how to do the same! WombWork is a production company that’s giving the Black residents of West Baltimore the tools to express themselves and a means to escape from the hardships of living in one of Baltimore’s most neglected areas. Their name derives from the understanding that “All life comes from the womb. Out of the darkness comes the light of understanding”. Their productions are aimed at inspiring change and equality in their communities, while also keeping in touch with their African heritage via mentoring in vocals, dance, acting, African drumming and stage management. They solidify their teachings using a three-tier model where professional, adult performers mentor rising, young adult performers, who then mentor the youth and child performers. WombWorks uses theater arts to illuminate real, hot-button issues affecting Baltimore City such as gun violence, sexual abuse, bullying, and drug and alcohol addiction.
In the 1990s, three Black women artists and mothers recognized Baltimore’s need for artistic programming and creative outlets for the next generation of Black leaders. Mama Kay Lawal-Muhammad, Mama Nata’aska Hasan Humminbird, and Mama Rashida Forman-Bey started a summer program that exposed youth to the facets of theater performance. In 2001, WombWork paired up with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to execute a study concerning the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls. The results were astounding; through their art-based programming, four middle schools experienced a reduction in violent behavior and overall social climate. From there, WombWork expanded its impactful work into the organization you see today—serving a broader demographic, as well as building relationships across many borders such as in Philadelphia, New York, Kenya, and Tanzania.
With all the funding WombWork needed to maximize their performers’ experience, they would start by staffing their organization with art professionals for more personal and full instruction. They’d also prioritize stocking all the tools and supplies they need to thrive. They would then extend their programming to more academic establishments to expose more kids to cultural performing arts. Additionally, WombWork would open its doors wider to the Baltimore community to ultimately become “an incubator for local artists and culture bearers in need of literal and figurative space to develop their talents, ideally utilizing social media and the Internet as a platform to elevate both internal and external creative endeavors”.
WombWork Productions is divided into three ensembles that cater to particular age groups and the issues and needs relevant to them. The Nu World Art Ensemble engages performers 21 and over. The Nu Generation Art Ensemble serves young adults ages 13 to 20 and is mentored by the Nu World Art Ensemble to encourage them to develop their artistic abilities, self-esteem and activist mindset. The Next Generation Art Ensemble, mentored by the two aforementioned ensembles, teaches young artists ages 5 to 12 the importance of culture, community, and leadership. To stay up-to-date on their performances and donate to their aspirations of social change fueled by cultural arts, follow their social media @wombworker or visit their page at cllctivly.org/listing/wombwork-productions-inc.
All February, we’re honoring a few of the many Black leaders in our community making history every day with #28DaysofBlackFutures.
This is a crowdfunding and narrative power campaign that amplifies and mobilizes resources for Black-led organizations serving Greater Baltimore.
Throughout the month, we will highlight 28 dedicated Black leaders and organizations on the ground creating programs and initiatives that drive health, wealth, safety, and culture in #Baltimore.
Let’s CELEBRATE these changemakers and SUPPORT their work! Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign.
Head over to 28DaysofBlackfutures.org to donate today! ❤️🖤💚