Topic: Telling the Stories of Artists* of Color in Very White Portland

Topic: Telling the Stories of Artists* of Color in Very White Portland
*defined as those creating theater/performance, original contemporary classical music, dance and visual arts
Hosted by Amy Wang
Attended by Adin Rogovin, Sydney Padgett, Laura Lo Forti, Karl Eysenbach, Emily Olson, Shawn Poynter, Jerome Vaughn, August Frank, Lillian Mongeau

What’s the quest: Identifying and gaining trust from those who could be suspicious of engagement efforts because of previous lack of coverage. Use convening to assess the status of the relationship, if any. Try partnering with other organizations that already may have access to artists of color, such as arts institutes, artists organizations, community media, Facebook groups. Reach out directly to artists of color I already know. Attend their events to open a conversation. Identify who is already doing a good job of covering artists of color and approach them for help/advice/suggestions. Beware of identifying artists of color as “unseen” or “unheard” – unseen/unheard by whom? We also discussed my personal bandwidth issues as an arts staff of one who is also tasked with additional responsibilities.

What else: Cultivate relationships with art “elites,” such as director at Portland Art Museum, art faculty at local colleges – “will you be talent scouts for me”? Need someone who is vitally interested in monitoring the arts scene. Look for common themes and areas of concern, especially at mid-level (neither elite nor grassroots), which could lead to stories. Listen: What are your stories, what are we not covering, help us tell your stories. Build an advisory group to use as a sounding board, maybe via a closed Facebook group. Figure out what institutions artists of color are using (galleries?).

Lessons/what’s next: Seek possible collaborations/partnerships with ethnic media – shared content? Look for opportunities to create evergreen content to address bandwidth problem. A Q&A series also requires minimal investment of time/resources. Could some of this work be funded by grants?