Q: I know that this year was your second year of holding Activation, right? I’m curious, can you give an overview of how you actually got it off the ground?
A: My first step was the ideation, so having this loose idea of an experience built around the broader concept of “activating.” I knew I wanted it to be for underserved artists, because as an underserved person who is surrounded by other underserved artists whose work I am inspired by, it felt really important to me that I was providing something for the community that I’m familiar with and accountable to. The ideation phase was a lot of dreaming and just imagining what this space could actually look like. I knew I wanted it to be in nature, and so I just started moodboarding what I wanted to see in this reality.
My second step was asking for help. I have a few friends who are building an artist space in Hudson, New York. I texted them and I was like, “Okay, this is my idea. I want to do this residency. Can you recommend any spaces?” They were immediately like, “The Outlier Inn.” I think that’s another secret of creating: when you start to ask questions and ask for help, things just pop up really easily. That’s one demystifying thing that I’ve experienced in my creative process.
So once I found the space, I was like, “Okay, I know that I want this experience to be activism and healing-oriented. So for me, what is healing? I decided part of that was about having really good, nutritious, locally sourced food. So I started doing research on how I could provide artists with a variety of food that would meet everybody’s needs, that was also local to the land we’d be spending time on. I found this place called the Center for Bioregional Living. I touched base with their main farmer named Adriana, and we just vibed. I was like, “Okay, this is my lady who’s going to do the food.”
Then, I went into implementation as a third step. “How are we going to fund this? What does that look like? How much are people going to have to pay to participate?” Because we have no backing, and no outside funding. We have to do this super DIY, so that meant we had to figure out equitable pricing, how we could do trades with people, how we could have people lead workshops in exchange for a free spot, things like that.
I think the fourth step, and one of the most important steps—but also a step that I had to be thinking about since the beginning—was the online presence. “How are people learning about this experience? Who are we going to draw in?” Instagram was a huge part in advertising Activation as an experience for people. It’s how something like 85% of our artists found us. We also had to do a website to share all of the information and things like that.
And then the actual participation happened, which would probably be the fifth step.