For Immediate Release: February 11, 2009
CONTACT: avemontaguelegacy@ gmail.com
Memorial Service to Honor the Life of
Saturday, February 21, 2009 | 12:00 noon
West Bay Conference Center
1290 Fillmore Street , San Francisco , CA
San Francisco arts publicist and presenter Ave Montague, founder of
The San Francisco Black Film Festival and Ave Montague and Associates
Died of natural causes January 24, 2009. She was 64.
SAN FRANCISCO – Film stars and jazz musicians, restaurant owners and community activists, artists and authors are all mourning the passing of well-known public relations specialist and event planner, Ave Montague. For more than 30 years, Ms. Montague was an integral part of the San Francisco Bay Area community, especially San Francisco ‘s Fillmore District. Some considered her the unofficial mayor of the Fillmore because of all the time and work she devoted to its renovation and the preservation of its cultural traditions. Ms. Montague died on Friday, January 23, 2009 of natural causes. She was 64 years old.
Never content with the status quo, Montague was always a mover and shaker in social, artistic and nonprofit realms. Just days before her death, she saw one of her greatest visions realized with the successful execution of Inauguration West, a west coast celebration of the historic Inauguration of President Barack Obama. True to her passionate concern for charitable organi-
zations, a portion of the proceeds from Inauguration West were dedicated to several non-profit groups including Urban Kidz Films, a subsidiary of the San Francisco Black Film Festival.
A native of East Orange , New Jersey , Montague attended East Orange High School before graduating with a degree in marketing from New York ‘s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York . She joined the Executive Training Program at Macy’s and became one of the first African American senior executives in the corporation’ s history. In 1988, she launched Ave Montague and Associates, the independent events and public relations business that expanded over the years to include a wide range of artistic, social and cultural enterprises. Montague represented a broad spectrum of artists, filmmakers and authors as well as rising small business professionals and progressive corporate clients.
In 1998, Montague was asked to present a film series as part of the Fillmore district’s Juneteenth Festival. The exhilaration of this experience, coupled with the decline of Oakland ‘s Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, fueled her desire to develop a San Francisco Bay Area film festival dedicated to positive images of African Americans. That same year, Montague founded the San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) and became its Executive Director. Operating with only a small budget and a passion for film, she grew the festival from a one-day event attended by 300 people in 1998 to an eight-day mega-film-festival with many thousands attending a diverse program, offering films from throughout the African Diaspora.
Montague curated and/or presented many other film festivals including Knoxville , Tennessee ‘s first Black Film Festival, The 2007 Stanford Reel Black Film Festival and the San Francisco International Arts Festival Film Series. Her increasing regard for the cultural importance of documenting, preserving and interpreting the creative contributions of Black filmmakers led her to amass a significant archive of Black films that she made available to private collectors, educators and schools. She dubbed the enterprise “amvideos.com.” Montague’s desire to provide positive role models for the African-American community and her commitment to education prompted her to found the African American Speakers’ Bureau (aasb.net) and to serve on the advisory board of WritersCorp, a program for young writers sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission. She was also a founding board member of “Friends of Faith”, an organization dedicated to educating women of color about the importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer. She was a former Co-chair of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA) and served as vice president of the board of directors for the San Francisco , San Mateo and Marin C ounty YWCA . She also served on the Community Benefits District Board (CBD) for the Fillmore Jazz Preservation district.
Montague’s determination and innovative promotional campaigns garnered celebrity patronage, corporate support and record-breaking attendance at countless cultural events for the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Dimensions Dance Theater, the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Fillmore Jazz District Promotions, the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens, the Black Coalition on AIDS, TV One, the Omega Boys Club, Starbucks Urban Coffee Opportunities, Museum of the African Diaspora, Yoshi’s San Francisco, Restaurant 1300 on Fillmore, Urban Solutions, UCSF Medical Center and many others.
In 2007, Montague received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women–Oakland Bay Area chapter. In February, 2008, she was honored with the Kuumba Award for Excellence in the Arts and received the “Business Woman of the Year” Award from the San Francisco Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1994. In 2000, the National African American Youth Summit honored Montague for her outstanding work with young people.
She is survived by one son, Kali Ray, a grandson, Kali Ray Jr., both of Atlanta , GA , and a granddaughter, Cree Ray of Tracy, CA. Montague leaves to mourn her passing a whole community of friends who will always remember her dedication and devotion to the causes dear to her heart. Her memorial is set for Saturday, February 21, 2009 , noon , at the West Bay Conference Center , 1290 Fillmore Street , San Francisco , CA .