“I had just gotten back from 6 months traveling, including 4 months in South Africa. There was news that the Rhode Island Foundation had money for Black Arts and Artists. I had always wanted to have a Black storytelling festival in RI. I’d been going to the National Black Storytelling Festival for years. I went to see Ramona Bass Kolobe. We sat at her table and dreamed—let’s make a group of us. We can call ourselves the Rhode Island Black Storytellers—RIBS!” We laughed. And RIBS was born.

“In thinking about a name for the festival, I was thinking about an arts center I saw in Soweto, South Africa. It was called the FUNDA CENTER… for learning.  “Hey, Ramona, how about the FUNDA FEST?… It means to learn.”

“And, it looks like FUN” Ramona said, and we laughed again.”


A Celebration of Black Storytelling

RIBS was founded in 1998 to present the inaugural Funda Fest inspired and supported by a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation in support of its “I’ll Make Me a World “ programming, inviting the community to celebrate Black arts and artists in the community. At that time, in January 1999, with $8000, RIBS presented 4 school programs and 2 public performances over 2 days and reached about 600 people. In recent years RIBS has presented 40 school shows each year reaching nearly 5000 students and teachers across the state. Now FUNDA FEST includes 7 public performances statewide in partnership with local organizations in each city or town, reaching an additional 600 people. Over the years RIBS has reached over 120, 000 people. RIBS is committed to presenting international, national, regional, and local artists at various career stages and to represent the diversity of Black storytelling.

RIBS defines Black Storytelling

as the oral art and traditions of African and African descended people world wide.



Some Additional Artists
over the years

Some of the Schools We’ve Been To:

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