From designers and artists to poets and tarot card readers, the first For the Culture Fest brought a large crowd out to celebrate the Black community.
The festival, hosted outside at 10 East Arts Hub, came about after musician and organizer Teresa Reynolds won a neighborhood arts grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation.
In organizing the event, Reynolds said she wanted to see a lot of artists, musicians and people who do not necessarily often cross paths in one space to foster love and unity among one another.
“I’m glad we can come together and celebrate Black joy, Black triumph, Black love,” Reynolds said.
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The event featured the whole gamut of artistic performances, from instrumentalists, vocalists, poets and visual artists of a variety of ages and backgrounds, which Reynolds said was important in assembling the line-up.
She said she thinks this representation is important because people need to know there is room for everybody in the Black community.
Featured performer Cosmo Xavier, a transgender poet of the Tuesday-Xavier Collective, said with all of the problems in the world, it was nice to enjoy the festival in peace with the people who inspired her to be who she is.
“There are all different kinds of Black people,” Xavier said. “We don’t fit into a monolith, and we get to come out here and we get to celebrate who we are.”
Aside from performers, the festival hosted around 15 Black-owned, small-business vendors, selling everything from jewelry and clothes to plants and candles.
Toni Johnson of Dipped By Toni, a small business which sells cookies, fruit salads and other sweet treats, said Reynolds reached out to her on social media to become a vendor.
Johnson had nothing but praise for the “amazing” event, citing its great turnout, vendors and music, in addition to the benefit the sales and attention will have on the community.
“After the season we’ve had with COVID, it’s just great to be out and among people and just experiencing each other,” Johnson said. “There’s something about human connection.”
Author Chris Mabrey, who had a stand selling his children’s books, echoed this sentiment, citing how nice it is to meet people in-person again.
His books revolve around topics he found himself discussing with children when he was a school counselor, such as bullying and not being afraid of the dark, from his own perspective.
He said he also wants to spread the notion of reading again, given the presence of technology in the world.
Another vendor, Taryan Temple, owner of Triumphant Creationz, makes customized items from bracelets and T-shirts to tumblers and yard signs — pretty much anything you can think of, she said, she can make.
“I hope it brings awareness to the change that is happening in the neighborhood, and it sheds some light on the neighborhood, as well,” Temple said.
While the date of the festival itself carries no precise significance, with the Fourth of July around the corner, Reynolds said she has thought about how the American flag has been usurped over the last few years.
She said the flag has accrued some negative connotations, especially in the Black community, because some people have taken it and used it as an oppressive force against them.
One thing she envisioned, she said, was the community taking the flag back.
“This is a flag for Black folks, too; This is a flag for trans folks, too,” Reynolds said. “That’s been percolating in my head.”
For the first iteration of the For the Culture Fest, it was a success. Reynolds said if she finds funding, she would love to host it again in years to come.
You can reach Pulliam Fellow Griffin Wiles at GWiles@gannett.com or on Twitter at @griffinwiles.
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