Joy is a radical act. As a practice and as an experience, joy is something that can heal and sustain us when times are tough. But joy also offers opportunities to explore possibilities beyond the confines of our daily lives.
Creating opportunities for joyful expression is increasingly necessary but often rare. The global Black Lives Matter network is looking to change that with a new creative fellowship program.
In an exclusive with NewsOne, the global network Black Lives Matter shared that it will invest in up-and-coming creators and artists through the ‘Black Joy Creators’ Fellowship. Treatment through arts and culture is a privilege that many do not always have, but it is important to help meet the challenges of the modern world.
“Black Lives Matter recognizes the power of arts and culture to dismantle white supremacy and bring us closer to achieving total liberation, not just here in America, but around the world,” Black Lives Matter Global Network said in a statement shared with NewsOne. “We plan to work with both young, emerging artists and established, world-renowned cultural workers to imagine a liberated future for our people. Along with great storytelling, we intend to disrupt current artist exploitation practices and be industry leaders in compensation, intellectual property and resources. La Maison des Créateurs is a safe dream space, for us, by us.
The group adopted a broad definition of creators, including dancers, filmmakers, food artists and musicians. Storytellers and narrative artists, including podcasters and other digital influencers, are also included under the creators umbrella. The organization is also interested in those who innovate in the field of ecology.
The group’s emphasis on supporting creative work is not new. Creative endeavors have been woven into the fabric of the organization since its inception.
“Art is part of our origin story, with the first official BLM meeting taking place in the historic St. Elmo Art Village,” the network told NewsOne. “We intend to have the kind of impact the village has had on generations of people with a greater emphasis on art and culture.”
In the past, Black Futures Month has embraced the artwork and creative direction of Afro-Futurists like Los Angeles-based artist Seán Greer. The MLK Artist Series featured six black artists stepping into the legacy of the late Reverend Martin Luther Jr.
Scholarship opportunities are rare, especially to support the work and passion of black creatives. And when the funding is made available, it’s often directed towards something traumatic, forcing creators to be immersed in pain instead of reveling in abundance and joy.
In the midst of so much happening nationally and globally, it may seem trivial for some people to focus on supporting the arts. But art in all its forms has provided black communities with a needed outlet.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network says it is also inspired by the Black Arts Movement, a period of deep cultural engagement by black artists pushing the boundaries of revolutionary imagination.
“We invite influencers to build a community with us,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network said. “We are inspired by the elders and ancestors of the Black Arts Movement who created a theater and art space to support, propel and inspire the Black Power movement of the 1960s. We are still fine-tuning the model, but wherever we go land, just know that it will infuse abolitionist practices and be black as hell.
In addition to providing financial support, the network will also provide creators with mentorship and social media engagement. An advisory committee will oversee the scholarship selection process.
“It’s critical that we don’t replicate white supremacist models used in the industry, and we can be intentional to really uplift creatives with our model,” the network explained. “We are redefining what it means to be an activist.”
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