The AUDBall: A Celebration of Black Artistry by Our Own Standards

Allow us to introduce ourselves, WE ARE AUD!


The AUDBall – a night where glitter and glory met Black excellence head-on. Envision a realm pulsing with love, buzzing with energy, and overflowing with talented Black Artists and Creatives. That’s the heart of The AUDBall, a revolutionary celebration of our essence and spirit.

Let’s break down the magic of the AUDBall:

  • A Call to Order
  • Planning A First Time Experience
  • Execution: Who Said Black Folks Can't Come Together
  • The Resulting Excellence


We spent 2023 crafting our message based on communal needs and injustices. From there we centralized local Black performing artists based on close observations and being active parts of the community. Yes, we were watching. We participated, we listened, we supported, and ultimately: we knew what we needed to do.

As local organizational DEI efforts in performing arts institutions were starting to decay and becoming exploitive, local Black Artist were notably receiving the harm from these oversights and sometimes, downright disrespectful racism. It was important that we championed a call to action reminded US of not only how talented and brilliant we are, but just how powerful we are - especially when we share our stories and share our resources.


We knew what we wanted to do was not only innovative, it was daring. Black Performing Artists and Creatives had not gathered in such a way in Memphis. To take it even further, Black Queer Artist and Creatives had not gathered in such a way. It was also our very first event as AUD. We sat our gaze on one of the most celebrated nights in Memphis Theatre, The Ostranders. This year featured a number of Black nominations and special awards. It was even hosted by our own, Justin Allen Tate. However, even still, we knew they would not be capable of capturing the magic that is specifically Black in celebration. We needed a night to celebrate ourselves and our accomplishments collectively, and in our skin. We needed praise for us by us.

How would we do it? Well that part wasn't easy, but we managed to do it with grace! We had only 3 weeks to plan our event from start to finish. Phone calls were made and connections were built. We were swift and focused. Our Founding Organizers Board was INCREDIBLE stepping in and making sacrifices to make it happen.

Founding Organizers of The AUD Collective 2023

Execution: Who Said Black Folks Can't Come Together?

One night sitting on the floor of a brand new apartment to celebrate birthdays and victories, we got to work. Forms and flyers were created and we crafted the most brilliant marketing plan...we weren't going to tell anybody anything.

The AUDBall was released virtually invisible by mainstream social media. We used our network and word of mouth to galvanize the community AND hire vendors and support from within our own community. We never posted online publicly.

Attendees were encouraged to RSVP and invite their Black artistic friends...oh, did we mention, FOR US BY US?

All others had to be invited. We wanted to be very clear from the gate:

AUD is not just a safe space...
its a protected space.
It ain't that you ain't invited...
you must be invited.

The Resulting Excellence

BOOM! It was out there and we were on a role, to our surprise RSVP's were flying in from left to right, but you want to know why??? BECAUSE WE KEPT THE LOCATION A SECRET (don't you just love when AUD is clever). We had planned the speakeasy event of the year and it was just for us.

During the awards show, it was quite funny to see everyone share a hot secret, whispering around or trying to figure out what this mysterious after-party was all about.

By 10:30, the awards show had wrapped up and it was game time...the only issue, our bartender ghosted us. Here we were with a little nacho bar and no drinks! There was no time to figure it out. We could only hope for the best.

Then it happened...the first few people started coming in...

To our surprise, they immediately jumped in to start helping us finish set up! It was so cool to watch. And that drink issue? No issue AT ALL! People were bringing in drinks from their cars and trucks.

Suddenly the room was full of 75+ Black Artist and Creatives of all ages from right here in Memphis celebrating each other! The night swelled as more and more stars brought in their light to share with the universe. It was gorgeous. We partied all night. By the end, we even walked categories, making this AUDBALL a BALL BALL!

What We Accomplished

The AUDBall stood as our bold response to mainstream events that often sideline Black creativity. Here, Black artists weren’t just present; they were the luminaries, the narrators, the life force. This space was our sanctuary, where our artistry could radiate freely and fiercely.

The night wove a rich tapestry of art, music, and dancing, echoing the diverse and dynamic beats of Black artistry. Everything was an ode to our culture, resilience, and shared victories.

The AUDBall transcended space. It was a crucible of connections and collaborations, a gathering where artists found common ground, shared dreams, and stood together in solidarity. This convergence wasn’t just about showcasing talent; it was about forging a united front in celebration and empowerment.

We learned that whatever we set our minds to, no matter how AUD...we are more than capable of "it". We are "it."

What We Learned

The essence of The AUDBall lay in its ability to provide a protective and empowering haven for expression. Here, we reveled in our identity, celebrated our culture, and stood in our authenticity UNAPOLOGETICALLY. The AUDBall was a declaration of the power, beauty, and worth of Black artistry.

We learned that we need more space! We learned our community is powerful, willing, ready, and vibrant. We learned that we are diverse and queer. We learned that whatever we set our minds to, no matter how AUD...we are more than capable of "it". We are "it."

The AUDBall marks the start of something monumental – a growing legacy, a tradition in the making. It’s our space, our narrative, and just another beginning of our story. 🎉🖤✊🏿

Shoutout to everyone involved in making it happen and everyone that attended.

Until next time!

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