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Dreamland Festival, a celebration of music, art and film will return to downtown Tulsa November 2-4, bringing the region’s largest hip-hop festival to the center of the city.
Created by Tulsa artist, entrepreneur and community leader Steph Simon in 2016, the name may have been changed from “World Culture Music,” but the impact is the same. Local and national artists will descend on Tulsa Arts District for three days of music, guest speakers, panel discussions and film screenings.
“Dreamland Festival has always been about building community by bringing people together, and providing a platform for artists to express themselves, and that’s still the intention now as we enter our eighth year,” Simon said.
“The centerpiece of the festival this year will be a big free concert at Guthrie Green on Saturday Nov. 4 with a national headliner I’m excited to announce soon.”
Honoring Greenwood’s destroyed Dreamland Theatre
The festival is named for the historic Dreamland Theatre, a staple of Black Wall Street that was burned down during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A century later, highway walls take the place of where the theatre once stood. This year Simon partnered with local entrepreneur Kolby Ari, who established a film organized called Dreamland.
Ari will screen and host discussions of a curated selection of films on Friday, Nov. 3.
“The magic of film is central to the origin story of Dreamland. When thinking about Dreamland in a name, the enduring legacy of the Williams family and how they created a beautiful institution as a place for community and imagination,” Ari said.
Building a legacy: Steph Simon births Dreamland Festival in Tulsa
For Steph Simon, showing the world what Tulsa artists have to offer started with a small goal. Years ago, while working at a call center, Simon grew tired of the lack of opportunities for rappers in his hometown. So the North Tulsa native created a path for others to follow.
Instead of the negative images people see of Tulsans through the show First 48, Simon wanted to show the potential of his community. His passion led him to creating a transformative festival that would not only reshape the narrative but also uplift aspiring artists.
“This year is about continuity,” Steph Simon told The Black Wall Street Times in June. “It’s about pushing boundaries and showcasing exceptional talent that remains undiscovered.”
The music lineup and programming for the Dreamland Festival in Tulsa will be announced on Oct. 2.