It’s now been over 10 years since davita galloway and her brother Dion founded Dupp&Swatt, giving a voice and platform to people of color in Charlotte’s creative scene. A year ago this month, local creative David Butler followed in those footsteps by helping launch beSOCIAL, a community space for innovation and connection that has hosted many events centering black creatives over the past year. Late in 2019, the two teamed with Grammy-nominated producer and rapper David “Dae-Lee” Arrington to continue their vision with HUE HOUSE, a creative consulting agency that offers funding and resources to Charlotte’s diverse cultural community.
Tonight, HUE HOUSE begins a new partnership with Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) to move that mission forward with The Block, a monthly gathering focused on empowering creatives, artists and entrepreneurs of color. The series begins with an event in JCSU’s Smith Technology Innovation Center tonight at 6:30 p.m., at which special guests will join the HUE HOUSE team to discuss the importance of and vision for The Block moving forward.
The event listing on the HUE HOUSE website reads, “HUE HOUSE firmly believes that to effectively support and empower a community you must first affirm it. Sadly, safe spaces that connect, affirm, value, equip and empower Charlotte’s artists, creatives and entrepreneurs of color are severely lacking … The heartbeat of this space will unapologetically reflect and value the creative community of color, providing a safe space for those who have historically not been equitably included.”
HUE HOUSE is determined to amplify all of Charlotte’s creative voices, Arrington told Queen City Nerve in the lead-up to tonight’s event, but by focusing on the groups that have been missing from the larger picture, the agency will help improve the creative voices that need to be heard the most.
“People of color need a voice [and space] in order to thrive. Charlotte doesn’t have that for the arts,” he said. “As a whole, the creative community is a microcosm of the current community. There has been a lot of research done that reveals how divided our city is when it comes to upward mobility.”
The creative community is no different, he said, as Charlotte’s arts scene is as disconnected and divided as ever. Within the last year, funding for education, housing and arts has significantly decreased, with organizations serving the black community being the most vulnerable.
“When the people at the table make decisions that don’t represent those who primarily inhabit Charlotte, those specific people will be left out of the growth of the city,” Arrington said. “We want people to have a sense of ownership within this space. We wanted to look at venues that represented people of color in our community”.
There is perhaps no better venue to fit that description than JCSU, established in 1867 and one of the country’s first Historically Black Colleges or Universities. HUE HOUSE has partnered with JSCU in order to make people aware of the history within their own community — to look at how HUE HOUSE’s predecessors have shaken off adversity to create for their own community.
In a release for tonight’s event, JCSU spokesperson Sherri Belfield stated, “Our partnership with HUE HOUSE continues Johnson C. Smith University’s tradition of being engaged as a catalyst for change and building sustainable assets in the community.”
In coming months, The Block will consist of panels that cover different themes and incorporate different styles of storytelling, Arrington said. The team invites all successful and up-and-coming creatives of color to attend or reach out to share their story.
“Looking in the eyes of someone who looks like you and being aware of the richness that comes from Charlotte will get you more than just inspired,” Arrington said.