The cast of “The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin” at Karamu House, performed in April 2023. Photo / Craig Taylor

Karamu House, a Cleveland-based cultural and theater institution highlighting African American experiences, has become the first “affiliate company” of Playhouse Square.

The affiliation designates Karamu House as an established, professional Northeast Ohio arts organization significant to local cultural life and as having a relationship with Playhouse Square, according to a Jan. 26 news release. Playhouse Square intends to establish additional associate company relationships in the future.

Although the designation allows both organizations an opportunity to explore a deeper creative partnership, Karamu House will remain at its current and recently renovated location in the Fairfax neighborhood, according to the release.

“I’m so pleased we’ve established our affiliate company designation with the venerable Karamu House,” said Craig Hassall, Playhouse Square president and CEO, in the release. “… Our goal is to introduce Playhouse Square audiences who may not be familiar with them to their work, and in turn, to introduce their audiences who may not have been here before to Playhouse Square.”

Karamu House has performed the gospel celebration “Black Nativity” at Playhouse Square’s downtown Cleveland theaters during the previous two holiday seasons and will do so again this year, according to the release.

The designation of “resident company” remains in place for the eight organizations who hold the majority or all their performances or events at Playhouse Square, according to the release.

“It is truly an honor for Karamu House to be Playhouse Square’s first affiliate company,” Tony F. Sias, president and CEO of Karamu House, said in the release. “As the oldest Black-producing theater in the nation, this alliance provides many opportunities for Karamu to expand our audience, share resources and have an ongoing presence at the acclaimed Playhouse Square, as we continue to produce theater and events at our home in the historic Fairfax district. Ultimately, this affiliation will enhance the patron experience for both organizations.”