The New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance, founded in October 2020, is an organization that shows, develops and celebrates young Black artists in the region.
Thandiwe McCarthy, a University of New Brunswick graduate, is one of the founding members. He said the origins of the alliance came from a similar organization one province over when McCarthy met David Woods, a Nova Scotian writer.
“We were discussing the organization and I said, ‘I really wish we had something like that in New Brunswick,'” said McCarthy. “I am part of many organizations and when I look at their membership, I’m usually the only Black person or one of three, yet I know so many Black artists.”
The organization helps artists through something McCarthy calls “the three P’s:” Practice, promotion and projects. He said the alliance would help these artists become professionals, adding to the provincial cultural narrative of Black culture in New Brunswick.
McCarthy said it is important to help highlight older Black artists that may often be overlooked. He said Black history has been omitted by a majority of historians in the province and a pillar of the N.B. Black Artists Alliance is to rediscover historic Black artists.
“When they first see any minority people, [they] don’t assume they are New Brunswickers,” said McCarthy. “We have so many multi-disciplinary Black artists that have reached global appeal that nobody knows about. I think that would be a source of pride for New Brunswick.”
For Black History Month, members of the board of directors will speak at a Zoom panel on Feb. 28.
Shannon Gumbs, a fourth-year student at St. Thomas University and another founding member, said the collective of artists include photographers, writers, dancers and singers.
She said one of the goals of the organization is to establish a scholarship or bursary program for high schoolers or university students.
Gumbs said she feels that art isn’t seen as a stable path. She said they want to show that it’s possible to make a living income off of what artists want to do.
“As the black population is growing, nobody is aware of the resources available to them as Black artists,” said Gumbs.
McCarthy said any young Black artists interested in promoting and profiting off their work should send samples of work and an explanation of what they do to the N.B. Black Artists Alliance.
“You need to share creativity in order to grow it,” said McCarthy. “You can’t just paint, you have to show the paintings and you can’t just show the paintings, you have to have a project under a theme and order to grow.”