Following two weeks of uncertain planning and frantic negotiations, State Department funds have been obtained to fly an additional 252 Afro American performers to the Second World Festival of Black and African Arts, it was announced yesterday.
The artists, writes and dancers, who will leave Monday from New York will replace the 10 American performers who have been in the festival village outside Lagos, Nigeria, since Jan. 13.
The only Washington performers known last night to be going were members of the D. C. Repertory Dance Co. Artistic Director Mike Malone said, "I was certainly glad to hear it. I just hope that the rest of the trip will wipe out the frustration of the last few weeks of preparing for a trip we didn't know aas coming off."
In addition to the peparation of five pieces for the festival, the company's recent weeks have been filled with such activity as getting shots, arranging for passports and visas, and preparing for food and clothing contingencies.
"Everybody is pretty tired," said Malone, "but we're excited."
This unexpected funding means that of the 800 performers scheduled to go to the festival, 450 will actually appear. They will travel in a charter plane provided by State Department funds, said Jeff Donaldson, chairman of the festival's American commitee. The State Department also paid for the first charter flight, making a total of $239,000 the government agency has given for the group's air travel.
The State Department dicision to grant money for a secong flight came after repeated requests, a committee spokesman said. State Department representatives had said after funding the first charter flight that it was not likely that planes would be provided.
Before arranging for the first charter flight, the State Department had given the American committee $100,000 that was used to hire a fund-raising firm, employ office staff and pay for daily expenses.
Donaldson said that three people played key roles in persuading the State Department to change its postion on funding a second charter. They were U. N. Ambassador-designate Andrew Young, Donald B. Easum, the U. S. ambassador to Nigeria, and E. O. Sanu, the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S.
A State Department spokesman said, "There was a new feeling on the part of our embassy (in Lagos) that there should be additions to the American representation. There is the feelin that this is a big event."
The American festival committee was working frantically last night trying to put together a list of performers for the flight. Names on the list were in doubt. Donaldson said, because artists were being contacted at the last minute about a trip they had considered uncertain.
Also, 111 performers in California were not sure they could make the trip because of a lack of funds to fly them to Chicago (the charter flight will origniate there and leave new York for lagos), and travel by bus is impractival because of snow-clogged hghways in many Western states.
Meanwhile, Donaldson said the committee is trying to raise $65,000 to pay travel expenses for an additional 77 performers to attend the festival. If the money is raised, they would fly on regularly scheduled flights on Feb. 1 and 2.