Resources Toni Morrison Would Want Artists & Art Lovers to Know About Right Now

Image created using Angela Radulescu’s 2008 public domain photo of Toni Morrison.

Not long after George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election, Toni Morrison found herself overwhelmed with a gloom that left her pen parched. Her mind flat. Her novel paused. 

In a moment that epitomizes her enduring relatability, she confided to a friend that she simply could not write. A morose writer’s block, directly linked to the direction the country was heading, paralyzed her mind in new ways. The friend did not respond with sympathy, but rather urged Toni to persist, yelling: “No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work—not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”

Toni swallowed her dear friend’s point and confessed that she later felt like a fool as she “recalled the artists who had done their work in gulags, prison cells, hospital beds; who did their work while hounded, exiled, reviled, pilloried. And those who were executed.” 

We know that artists prevail through disaster. As you stumble and freeze in your own work, it is important that you give yourself space to mourn and do nothing. Then wipe your face and try to do something. Repeat this cycle as often as necessary. Not because the world needs you to create, but because you need you to create. 

As we navigate this new normal, in which it is increasingly difficult to decide whether the sky is still or has already finished falling, remember that being isolated doesn’t equate to being alone or unsupported. Turn your back to the pandemic—and squint—until a glimpse of another future comes into view. 

Carry Toni’s message with you: “There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear.” And see the below resources that exist to offer artists a little bit of salvation, when so much seems unsalvageable. 

Resources for Artists

The below is a far leap from exhaustive. There are many other organizations offering funds to impacted artists. Review these lists from the Los Angeles Times and WomenArts and conduct your own searches, too.

Support Individual Artists and Institutions

  • Buy merchandise online. Consider purchasing from black creatives here or here. Black Art in America has more expansive suggestions. 
  • Hire artists to complete projects
  • Attend (…and buy tickets for!) online performances, panels and exhibitions
  • Resist the urge to ask for refunds for cancelled shows
  • Think outside of the box. Is there a musician you could hire to perform some of your mother’s favorite jams via Zoom this Mother’s Day? 

Show Support and Send Over That Green

If you’re in a position to elevate and contribute to the arts financially, some donation-worthy art organizations and initiatives are:

Show Support Without Touching That Wallet

Happy New Year!

Is it too late to still say Happy New year? 24 days in and I feel like it is necessary to still acknowledge we have entered a new decade.

Whew! 2019 proved to be a whirlwind and so far, 2020 is no different.

We haven’t forgotten about you or our amazing company, but sometimes it is necessary to step-back and refocus. We will have a big brand announcement coming soon so stay tuned!

Much love,


Columbus Black International Film Festival 2019

Columbus Black International Film Festival will highlight a spectrum of stories told by artists of the African Diaspora.

COLUMBUS, OH – 2019 CBIFF Founder Cristyn Steward will host the third annual Columbus Black International Film Festival (CBIFF) August 22-25 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The film festival will showcase local, national, and international stories from the African diaspora in the city of Columbus.

The Columbus Black International Film Festival will open at the Wexner Center for the Arts and feature a Keynote address from filmmaker CJ Johnson, as well as guest speaker Kyle Meeks of Meeks Media. The festival will continue the following three days at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. The entire festival schedule will include a networking event at the Columbus Museum of Art, film screenings, an acting workshop a screenwriting pitch competition, and a panel discussion featuring various media and representation professionals.

Cristyn Steward is a Columbus native and seasoned filmmaker with over ten years of experience in the industry. Steward’s expertise and vision gave her the inspiration to host an event for the city of Columbus to give a platform to artists in her hometown who truly give a meaning to the phrase ‘visionary art’. With the success of both the 2017 and 2018 festivals, this year’s theme is ‘Black Infinity’. Said Steward, “‘Black Infinity’” is about delving deeper into the layers of the Diaspora and Black Experience. Our Blackness is infinite through space and time. We are influenced by the past, the work we’re doing in the present, and continuously creating our future.”

The Columbus Black International Film Festival has received support from well-renowned arts, corporate, community, and non-profit organizations including the Wexner Center for the Arts, Hyatt Regency Columbus, Black Chick Media, Stonewall Columbus, Black Out and Proud, Equality Ohio, TransOhio, Meeks Media, Inktip, Reese Productions, Artis Creative, and Artistic Freedom LTD. There are plans to invite multiple local businesses and organizations to be a part of this event as a way to showcase to attendees all that Columbus has to offer.

The primary objective of the festival is to showcase Black filmmakers locally, nationally, and internationally while creating an opportunity to network with various artists in the filmmaking community. The Columbus Black International Film Festival is the first and only film festival in the Midwest solely created and run by an African-American woman.

For more information, contact Cristyn Steward at


Calling All Arts Administrators of Color!

If you’re an arts administrator of color from Chicago, Cleveland, or Indianapolis, check out this awesome opportunity from Americans for the Arts!

Virtual Information Session March 18, 2:00 p.m. EST Watch the Replay Here
Priority Application Deadline    March 20, 2019 11:59 p.m.
Final Application Deadline    March 27, 2019 11:59 p.m.
Interviews + Decisions  no later than April 26
Fellowship Dates  June 11, 2019 – June 12, 2020


Americans for the Arts (AFTA) has partnered with The Joyce Foundation and American Express Foundation to introduce the Arts & Culture Leaders of Color Fellowship (ACLC Fellowship).

AFTA’s research, echoing research by the Hewlett Foundation, suggests that emerging and mid-career leaders of color are not advancing to senior leadership positions or are migrating out of the field rather than up through it. Possible drivers, based on listening charettes hosted in each city included: structural and institutional racism, limited access to senior-level arts administrators of color, feelings that exceptional work is undervalued or unrecognized by powerbrokers, a disconnected professional community of peers, the perceptions that opportunity and welcome will be better elsewhere, among others.

The ACLC Fellowship is a one-year professional development experience for emerging and mid-career arts leaders of color across arts disciplines. The 2019 – 2020 cohort includes fellows from Chicago, Cleveland, and Indianapolis and the 2020 – 2021 cohort will include fellows from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. The two-year pilot aims to be a model for systemic national arts leadership change by coupling advanced leadership development for ACLC Fellows with targeted learning opportunities for their close professional mentors and regional arts leaders who, all together work to advance their approaches to management towards greater racial and cultural equity in the Great Lakes region.


  • Provide fellows with ongoing professional development, support, and networking that promotes learning and growth, a sense of leadership, career vision, equity orientation, and business skills.
  • Highlight pathways to leadership for a diverse set of arts management professionals in the Great Lakes region, particularly those who feel their race or ethnicity has negatively affected their leadership prospects.
  • Promote and foster a culture of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts management field, within arts organizations, and in the community.


A total of 12 fellows from Chicago, Cleveland, and Indianapolis (four fellows from each city) will be accepted into the 2019 – 2020 cohort through a competitive application process.

Each applicant MUST:

  • be available for all scheduled in-person and virtual events (see schedule on additional information page);
  • self-identify as a person of color and/or ALAANA: African, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native American;
  • be an emerging or mid-career arts professional [between one (1) and 15 years in arts, culture, or heritage management];
  • be employed full-time at an organization with at least two full-time staff;
  • live in Chicago, Cleveland, or Indianapolis at the time of application.

Highly competitive applicants INCLUDE:

  • evidence of a commitment to cultivating personal and professional skills needed to ascend in arts leadership;
  • a demonstrated interested in promoting cultural equity;
  • promise as a risk-taker and innovator of programs, policies, or practices that advance an organization or community.


The fellowship curriculum follows five core themes and is delivered in component parts that support fellows in their work to advance arts institutional missions as well as their individual career trajectories. Core themes include:

  1. Learning and Growth
  2. Career Vision
  3. Management and Business Skills for Leaders
  4. Leadership as Strategy for Individual and Organizational Growth
  5. Leadership as Instrument for Equity

Program Partners + Sponsors

The Joyce Foundation
American Express Foundation

More information: