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Impact of Black Arts on Mainstream Culture

The Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) Fund Blog features the unique voices and perspectives of people who make up the diverse fabric of the Colorado community who are engaged in philanthropy. It's a platform to share their comments and opinions on how people in the Black community give back, discuss historical and current challenges, and illustrate Black resilience. This month, the Colorado Black Arts Movement shares the impact of Black art on the culture and greater influence on society.

The future home of the Arts Education Center set to break ground in 2024 in the Montbello community as part of the new FreshLo Hub Project.

From creatively amplifying self-expression, to promoting social and political activism to influencing mainstream culture, the impact of Black American art and culture on society is profound and far-reaching. Throughout history, Black artists, musicians, writers, and creators have contributed significantly to American culture and have shaped the broader global cultural landscape. Here are some essential aspects of their impact:

  1. Expression of Identity and Experience: Black American art and culture are powerful vehicles for expressing the Black community’s unique experiences, struggles, and triumphs. They offer a platform to share stories, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate diverse identities.

  2. Social and Political Activism: Black artists have often used their work as a means of social and political activism. From the Harlem Renaissance in the early 20th century to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, art has been instrumental in driving change, promoting equality, and advocating for civil rights.

  3. Influencing Mainstream Culture: Black American art has significantly influenced mainstream culture, shaping various artistic disciplines, including music, dance, fashion, literature, and visual arts. Many aspects of Black culture, such as jazz, hip-hop, dance, clothing, language, and lifestyle, have become global phenomena and have had a lasting impact on popular culture.

  4. Challenging Racism and Stereotypes: Black American art has played a vital role in challenging racial stereotypes and breaking down racial barriers. By portraying Black people as multifaceted individuals with diverse talents and stories, these works help combat negative portrayals often perpetuated by mainstream media.

  5. Cultural Diversity and Inclusivity: Black American art and culture celebrate diversity and contribute to a more inclusive society by sharing perspectives and narratives that might otherwise go unheard, which can foster empathy, understanding, and appreciation for cultural differences.

  6. Economic Impact: Black American artists and cultural events have a significant economic impact. From the success of Black musicians in the music industry to the rise of Black-led fashion trends, their contributions generate substantial revenue and create job opportunities.

  7. Inspiration and Empowerment: Black American art has inspired generations of artists and individuals to pursue their passions, embrace their identities, and overcome adversity. It empowers communities to have pride in their heritage and contribute actively to society.

  8. Preservation of History: Black American art is a valuable historical record of the Black experience in the United States. Through paintings, literature, music, and other art forms, it preserves stories and moments in time that might otherwise forget.

  9. Education and Awareness: Black American art and culture provide educational opportunities to learn about history, social issues, and the contributions of Black people to society. It encourages dialogue and understanding among people of different backgrounds.

These improved outcomes for individuals and communities are at the heart of the Colorado Black Arts Movement (CBAM) work. This local nonprofit exists to highlight Black creativity, Black artists, and Black culture. With early financial investment from the BRIC Fund and other local funders, CBAM is now building an Arts Education Center in the Montbello neighborhood as part of the Montbello Organizing Committee’s FreshLo Hub project. We know that people intrinsically value the arts in their lives—arts entertain, inspire, inform, and provoke us, and Black American art and culture have profoundly impacted society by fostering self-expression, driving social change, influencing mainstream culture, challenging stereotypes, promoting inclusivity, and contributing to economic and historical significance. Their contributions continue to shape and enrich societies locally, nationally, and globally.

Leveraging the economic potential of CBAM’s Arts Education Center, the Montbello FreshLo HUB includes three buildings. The first building is already under construction and will consist of 97 units of affordable housing, mental health services provided by WellPower, and community retail space. A second building includes a grocery market, the Building Community Wealth Center, and other amenities, and the Arts Education Center will be the third building to rise with a groundbreaking in early 2024.

It is essential that we ameliorate any disconnect between public perception of the value of the arts and their impact. This disconnect threatens the sector’s sustainability and our community’s future. We must continue leveraging the arts’ social impact to its full potential to advance and sustain community priorities.

That can only happen by following the lead of the BRIC Fund in investing in Black community, issues of importance and how we illustrate resilience every day in Black art, Black Artists, and Black culture.

Overall Stats and Facts on the Impact of the Art and Culture Sector

  • The UN estimates, the creative economy industries generate annual revenues of over $2 trillion, accounting for nearly 50 million jobs worldwide.

  • In Colorado, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector contributed $14.4 billion to our economy in 2020, sustained 97,408 jobs, and total compensation of $8.7 billion.

  • Beyond economics, arts and culture contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities. Low-income neighborhoods with access to cultural resources have 14% fewer cases of child abuse and neglect and 18% less serious crime than low-income neighborhoods without cultural resources.¹

  • Concentrated cultural districts are associated with reduced poverty without neighborhood displacement, improved child welfare, and lower morbidity.²

  • “At-risk” students involved in arts are 23 percentage points more likely to attend college than peers with low arts involvement.³

  • Low-income students with access to cultural resources score higher in English and Math. Low-income students with a high level of arts experience in school are more likely to attend college, vote, and volunteer in their community.⁴

  • 67% of music therapy participants with dementia felt less anxious and reduced their use of medication.⁵

  • 45% of medical institutions nationwide offer some arts program, with 8 out of 10 stating they do so to benefit patient recovery.⁶

¹Source: Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City, 2017

²Source: CultureBlocks Philadelphia, 2013

³Source: The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, 2012

Source: The Social Wellbeing of New York City’s Neighborhoods: The Contribution of Culture and the Arts, 2017

Source: Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, 2017

Source: Participatory Arts for Older Adults: A Review of Benefits and Challenges. Gerontologist, 2018


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