Cultural Odyssey's mission is to support the artistic work and vision of Rhodessa Jones and Idris Ackamoor, as well as an ancillary group of emerging and established performing artists. To implement its mission, Cultural Odyssey locally premieres the original productions, presents the Cultural Odyssey Performance Series, offers free and low cost technical assistance, and conducts residencies and national and international tours. As well, it operates a community-based program entitled, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women that serves female inmates, ex-inmates, HIV Positive women, and female community participants. In addition, the company conducts jazz programming spearheaded by the Idris Ackamoor Ensemble targeting youth and the general public.
Cultural Odyssey was founded by Idris Ackamoor, Executive/Co-Artistic Director, in 1979 and joined by Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, in 1983. Idris founded Cultural Odyssey after traveling to Africa and observing the interdisciplinary nature of African artistic culture. Also of note was the connection African artists had with their community. His early vision was to found an organization that combined music, theater and dance into a unified whole that was responsive and influential to the needs of the community.
Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones have developed a variety of original productions that demonstrate their vision of "Art as Social Activism." They have collaborated with nationally renowned artists such as choreographer Bill T. Jones, the late artist Keith Haring, writers Pearl Cleage, Ntozake Shange, and Eve Ensler, and tenor saxophonists Chico Freeman. Having toured in the United States, Africa, Japan, the Caribbean, and Europe regularly for over thirty years, Cultural Odyssey also continues to establish strong artistic roots and community involvement in San Francisco by showcasing their productions.