Mar 18, 2024 | Article | 0 comments

This story is part of the Solving Sacramento journalism collaborative. Solving Sacramento is supported by funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian American Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Observer and Univision 19.

Passion, policy and opportunity intersected on the evening of March 13 when Atrium 916 and Black Artist Foundry held a creative economy meeting in the Russ Room on the upper floor of Solomon’s on K Street in Downtown Sacramento.

The event was held with the support of Civic Thread, Valley Vision’s We Prosper Together initiative, city of Sacramento and California Forward with the California Jobs First initiative.

That was a sentiment echoed by Kiara Reed, executive director of Civic Thread, who defined the creative economy as “the dollars, the business, the jobs that are produced and impacted by creative people.” McKinnie praised Reed and Valley Vision’s work on We Prosper Together — a collaborative that centers community through its economic development work — for bringing creatives into the conversation.

A $50 stipend was provided to all attending artists through Valley Vision, a regional civic organization that funded the event and is the backbone of providing funding and support to We Prosper Together. “I think it was important to say, ‘Hey we value your ideas and you should be paid for them,” McKinnie said.

As doors opened at 6:30 p.m., over 60 attendees mingled, enjoyed drinks, shared Instagram handles and connected over ideas, policy change and grant opportunities. DJ Kiare Thompson spun records while Solomon’s served pastrami tacos.

An “Opportunity Table” sat in the middle of the room, covered in flyers and information on arts grants and teaching jobs. A packet detailing the upcoming second annual California Arts and Culture Summit, to be held in mid-April at The Sofia, was also on hand. QR codes encouraging attendees to vote in a city of Sacramento Fiscal Year 2024/25 Budget Community Survey papered tables along the edges of the space. The city, facing a more than $66 million deficit, is asking residents for help in determining where to cut costs.

“I don’t think that people who aren’t in the arts realize how much the arts impact all aspects of life,” said Justina Martino, founder of Art Tonic, which provides grant writing support, project management and professional development educational opportunities. “Everywhere you look an artist has probably touched. I feel like often the arts are the first thing to get suggested for budget cuts.”