Last week, one of our photographers, Christopher Michael, was selected to participate in ‘25%’ — a gallery presented by Emerald Studios, hosted in the beautiful space of Cro Studios. In the publication’s words:
About 25%: Studies show that in creative occupations, only 25% of all workers classify as a minority. This gallery was created with the intent of bringing that to the public attention and highlighting the best 25 minority photographers in the Dallas / Ft. Worth metroplex.
Dialogue surrounding diversity in creative ecosystems is one that Jeff (our co-founder) and I frequently share. So, having been great admirers of the Emerald Studios publication and their work, we quickly jumped at the chance to submit our predominantly-black roster of photographers to participate. With full praise, I thank the Emerald Studios team for the turnout, and allowing a space for so many meaningful conversations amongst guests. In the days that followed this evening, I’ve jotted down some quick thoughts of my own.
As someone who exists within the world of creative business, I’ve come to recognize that our biggest barrier as minorities, broadly speaking, is exposure. Not exposure of our work but, rather, to early guidance in our careers. In my years connecting with artists of color, I’ve concluded a noticeable pattern in how much later in life we’re exposed to the idea of Creativity as viable careers. This is largely due to a general absence of early-stage mentorship, capital, access to resources in the art world, and excitement in the possibility that artistry can very much convert to meaningful work (that actually pays).
And, while it’s great that we’re becoming increasingly more aware of the issue, it isn’t enough to simply recognize the lack of diversity in creative ecosystems. The work begins when we make an active (and sustained) effort to gain deep understanding of the matter — and why it deserves thoughtful dialogue beyond statistics.
That said, I think a healthy, actionable next step in the right direction will take place when we seek to become more aware of young, colored artists starting out, and take it upon ourselves to invest in the ones we see potential in. Invite them to our productions. Equip them with tools and resources. Teach them about sales, processes, and disciplines. Prepare them for their careers, while leading our next generation of artists toward a more inclusive environment by highlighting minorities in Creative. And, most proactively, continue to hire artists of color who are doing good, honest work.