The first St. Louis African Arts Festival was held in 1991 as an outgrowth of the 34th Annual African Studies Conference hosted by Washington University. A year prior to the conference, a group of academic, business, and community leaders came together to explore ways in which a forum could be established that would bring the diverse community of St. Louis together for the purpose of learning and celebrating the rich and diverse cultures of African and African American people. The mission of the festival is to increase the awareness of the global contributions of African people and people of African descent have made through art, cultural, and educational programs.
The St. Louis African Arts Festival is held in beautiful Forest Park. Each year the festival attracts a diverse audience of thousands of local residents and out-of-town visitors during the Memorial Day weekend. The Festival draws the community together in celebration of the rich contributions of Africa and the African Diaspora (diaspora--people settled far from their ancestral homelands). The annual event enjoys partnerships with major local cultural institutions as the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Public Library, the Muny, and Washington University in St. Louis.
The African Heritage Association of St. Louis, the parent organization of the St. Louis African Arts Festival, receives support from the Missouri Arts Council and the Regional Arts Commission. The festival is free and open to the public.
The African Heritage Association of St. Louis, Inc. (AHA) is a 501(C) 3, non-profit organization and is governed by its Board of Directors.