Apolcalypse Now

Will “Topiltzin” Sanchez, Owner/Artist/Activist, 2020.

“Inasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13)

By Residents, for Residents. Committed to Equity. Transparent and Accountable. Diversity in race, people, ethnicity, ethnic group, and nation, except when dispersal of public funding is involved.

Years ago, we were just a group of artists wanting an opportunity to exhibit our work. Twenty years later after reopening a brick-and-mortar building, I came to the realization that not much has changed for some in the creative industry, other than it is now a billion-dollar economic engine. These days there are terms used to explain or describe the evolving field that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture, and creativity to serve a community’s interest, while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation in a way that also builds character and quality of place. Artists or the arts culture have been the catalyst of the gentrification process since the beginning of civilization. Today we base redevelopment plans upon it: just look at many of the Cleveland neighborhoods’ economic strategies implemented to help their communities. Without artists, all this political meandering is pointless.

In 2020 the world changed, and the new normal became the death of many arts sector formats. From concerts to exhibits, we, along with the entire creative industry, were closed the majority of 2020—receiving funding to keep the business going, but unable to share our passion in the conventional ways. Artists did what we do best: adapted and overtook the internet. Being an artist/entrepreneur takes much sacrifice and patience; many times your mind wanders to the perspective of others: staff, artists, colleagues, and the community in which we reflect and serve. And then life makes things complicated, bringing personal struggles that feed our muse to absorb its blows. Whether that goal is to be a voice of the underserved artists or the tool of economic development.

In Spring 2023, I decided to return to the private sector, with good reason. Nonprofits DO NOT pay their artists in a timely manner, nor have a program in place for artists to utilize. Most of the projects are based upon what the artists provide, whether it be their talent or art supplies. It’s those organizations that need us. The Sin Tax campaign is for our support, but the nonprofit benefits with lucrative administration fees before they even do an outreach to us. Every grant, funding program, or project applied for by them is based on us. Yet, they create nothing, no value, and want our gratitude for a pittance. As if we are children that need our hands held.

We will not support more schemes of middlemen or social agendas while we struggle.


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