In 2013 and 2014, the Avenue for the Arts was fundraising to move into a new headquarters space along South Division and created a campaign using the #artmatters, the logo for the campaign showed an upraised fist holding a paintbrush. While we did not intend to appropriate the Black Lives Matters movement, we were.
As I gained more awareness of the #blacklivesmatter movement I understood the implications of our campaign and I was horrified. By creating our campaign in a vacuum, we had created something inherently racist.
The campaign is long over, but the remnants of it, random t-shirts and notebooks sometimes pop up, and while we may have grown as individuals, the fact remains that we co-opted something that didn’t honor our community.
And for that I am very sorry.
While this issue has been discussed on other platforms, I have not publicly acknowledged this error and recognize that we must do better, as a program, as an Advisory Committee, as a community of artists.
I believe that many of our artists also understand inappropriateness of cultural appropriation, but it is clear that we all must be aware, challenge each other and continue to grow as people and as a community. To this end we will be working to identify opportunities to continue addressing issues of art, race, culture and representation. I don’t know what form those opportunities will take but welcome anyone who would like to work on shaping all Avenue related events and conversations to attend our monthly Avenue for the Arts Advisory Committee meetings, the second Wednesday of each month, 6pm at the Avenue for the Arts headquarter space located at 307 South Division Avenue.
Jenn Schaub – Avenue for the Arts Coordinator