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by Josie Gulliksen

Always looking to expand its Art of Black Miami programming, which celebrates the Black diaspora, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) debuted their Art of Black Miami Podcast this summer.

This story was originally posted on ArtburstMiami.com, an innovative media hub for the creative ecosystem covering theater, dance, visual arts, festivals, independent film, music and arts news.

Featuring a total of six episodes, five already available and a final one debuting soon, the podcasts aim to shine the spotlight and give voice to Miami’s established and emerging artists from the Black diaspora. Conducting the interviews is Rosie Gordon-Wallace, founder of the Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator and a fixture in Miami’s arts community for more than two decades.

The podcast allowed creative individuals to share their journeys with new audiences during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

“We had a year to think and be creative in the whole virtual space and devise other ways to get our message across about Miami being a destination for the arts,” said Connie Kinnard, Vice President of Multicultural Tourism & Development with the GMCVB. “The podcast is another way to support our local artists and show that they’re a business entity.”

The Bureau’s Art of Black Miami Program is part of a broader initiative called the Tourism Business Enhancement Program, which focuses on capacity building for tourism-related businesses, directly or indirectly. The programming helps connect companies to chambers of commerce and eco-development businesses. “It’s an initiative to work locally with the businesses in our neighborhood to help them with all types of tourism,” said Kinnard.

Artists are a major part of tourism because they are a business, and the Art of Black Miami program helps artists see themselves that way. “We want them to realize they’re a major connection for us to tourism,” she said.

Erasure in the Making by Devora PerezErasure in the Making by Devora Perez

The artists who collaborate with the GMCVB’s Multicultural Division are those who have a connection and speak to or touch the Black diaspora in some way. It’s the main focus of the department and the storytelling aspect of it, essentially getting the message out about artists who are somewhat unsung, “is another way to elevate the platform of these artists. In our podcast series it is positioned to where it is a bit of a story about their art and how they connect to Miami,” said Kinnard.

Creating the podcast was a way for the department to begin documenting these stories and a way to hold on to the conversations, all working toward creating an archive.

“These will really be evergreen because it’s about them and the artists’ vantage point and how they create their art,” said Kinnard.

“The podcast is a way to start thinking differently. Crisis breeds creativity, and this thought process came out of a way to continue our mission in an effective way. Because podcasts have always been virtual, we thought let’s go to a tried-and-true method of this story.”

This podcast story series is something no other department at the GMCVB has done. For this first year, the group of artists came together a couple of ways.

Knowing they wanted to document certain people, there were names that immediately resonated. They also wanted a combination of up-and-coming as well as established artists, male and female, to help reach all demographics.

Each podcast ranges from 12 to 15 minutes, a good starting point to create what they like to call “snackable content.” Translation: Just long enough to entice listeners. They also include links to the artists, in the hopes a listener will do research and hopefully even buy some art.

Your Mommas Voice by Najja Moon
Your Mommas Voice by Najja Moon

Local artist Najja Moon, who was the featured artist in Episode 5, shared her journey to being featured on the podcast.

“Rosie Gordon-Wallace approached me. Rosie is incredibly thoughtful and committed to handling everyone with care. She explained that the show would center around sharing the work and narratives of artists who live here, and asked me if I’d be interested,” she said.

Moon gives a lot of credit to Gordon-Wallace, whose “very thoughtful way of communicating is very organic. She is able to execute that kind of energy with everyone she speaks to.”

That, coupled with the experience and knowledge of producer Cathy Byrd of Fresh Art International, who has been producing podcasts in Miami for years, make it a winning combination.

“Cathy has been running contemporary art podcast series in Miami for decades now and she was a great partner to bring on for this project,” said Moon.

Moon is also excited about the group of artists chosen and was thrilled to have been thought of for this initial initiative. “There are so many OGs in this group, I think the more conversations we have with each other the better,” she said.

Overseer Overseer Officer 2020 courtesy of Spinello Projects
Overseer Overseer Officer 2020 courtesy of Spinello Projects

Those artists include Devora Perez, Marvin Weeks, Asser Saint-Val and Jared McGriff, who were all featured before Moon, and Robert McKnight, who will be featured on September 20.

As with so many cultural events, in-person went by the wayside during the pandemic but these virtual events, Moon says, “are a great way to inherently reach more people. In the future I hope they continue to exist as supplementary things to in-person events which have no replacement, but virtual events can greatly complement them.”

Virtual also fast-tracked plenty of changes in the workplace in terms of accessibility, particularly public talks or concerts that were lacking a certain amount of translation. “But now, the expectation is to consider accessibility in a way people never thought about before,” Moon said.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is on the same wavelength, having already determined that they’ll continue doing the podcast series. This year’s series launched in April and runs through September.

In the first part of 2022, they’ll begin planning next year’s guest list, again from April through September, which for the moment they’ll loosely call their Summer Series.

“This will definitely be an annual event because we’ve gotten great feedback and have already been approached by some artists who want to be on in 2022,” said Kinnard.

After 2022, they hope to move the series into a greater podcast arena and take it to another level. The possibilities are endless.

Visit the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Art of Black Miami website, ArtofBlackMiami.com, to listen to Episodes 1 through 5 and find Episode 6 broadcasting on September 20.