We continue our series of LivingArts Hamilton blogs featuring guest writers from a variety of arts disciplines across the community. This week, we're pleased to welcome Hamilton-based designer, artist, and visual alchemist, Stylo Starr. stylostarr.com
"An organization which claims to be working for the needs of a community […] must work to provide that community with a position of strength from which to make its voice heard. This is the significance of Black Power beyond the slogan.” -Stokely Carmichael
COBRA established in the summer of 2016 when local creatives of colour found common ground in the grievances concerning seeking exposure and work in the Hamilton arts community. With this motivation we united to create the Coalition Of Black & Racialized Artists. As we share a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and heritages, it was important for us to highlight that this gathering was not exclusively for one group; this was a unification of a people that, individually had no voice, but could now be heard a collective.
Using this new collective voice was our first step in establishing our place in the community. After meticulous planning and expert promotion - all in-house - we launched to the city of Hamilton as an official community body on February 6th at the now closed AGH Design Annex. The goal of the launch was to put the first set of actions in motion behind our mission: “…we seek to offer our perspective as the Hamilton Arts Community begins making strides towards a more complete understanding of the city’s under-served artistic scenes.”
Simply put, we did what we all do best; we hosted a show that featured something for everyone because we understand the value in providing safe, inclusive and accessible spaces for our multi-faceted community. The show featured local artists, makers & service providers of colour infused with live painting, music, theatre and spoken word. The city made its presence known in numbers, as well as in the dedication of its councilors and dignitaries; Matthew Green and Evelyn Myrie respectively. The event was a success and created a buzz leaving Hamilton asking: what’s next for COBRA?
The core founding committee has been hard at work in meetings and discussing ways to be proactive in lifting up our marginalized creators. The success of the launch illuminated many different avenues of potential for growth as a coalition, and we believe that establishing a strong foundation of offerings is essential in carving the best, most sustainable path for COBRA. We look to create strong working relationships within the city with community partners and businesses, as well as highlighting emerging and established artists alike, across all art forms. We have much planned and in store, and we are grateful to see the beginnings of our collective voices being heard.