There is a ceiling to the contributions culturalists have on the economy because their work is not as widely accepted and financially supported as traditional businesses and startups.
The recent and rapid acceleration of efforts to represent marginalized communities should be praised, but they should also be put into perspective. Fetishized black art and artists have become popular recently as “cultural” organizations, museums and corporations represent black artists on a temporary, exhibition or performance basis. This is tokenism in the arts and does not financially support the artist’s stability or viability. Permanent collection opportunities, paying gigs, salaried positions and startup capital will help to turn the tide.
The temporary and unstable nature of one-off support of artists and cultural entrepreneurs is being seen again. The COVID-19 pandemic created greater visibility into the gaps that exist within the arts and culture industry. It’s also this same community of smaller/independent artists that are called upon in times of need that have helped bring our communities back together. In Indianapolis, we’ve seen everything from artists creating face masks, to musicians bringing people together through music, artists creating murals on boarded up buildings and more.
Through GANGGANG, there is an opportunity to disrupt the traditional revenue model and position artists and culturalist in a way where we can contribute to and benefit from our economy in a greater way, help revive our community and make cities more beautifully vibrant. This practice of exploiting Black creatives for their outputs can no longer happen in a society that says it wants to be(come) equitable.
GANGGANG will not only contribute to a new class of entrepreneurs and economic activity but increase human connectedness across cities –because that is what culture does. It’s time to bring people together in the way only the arts can, and pay back the culture that shaped America in the meantime.