Creating spaces for Black and African communities in Europe
We spoke with Craig Stevens, Feven Eyob and Michele Clark of The Black and African Solidarity Show (B.A.S.S.) on what does a European public space mean for their project and solidarity.
The Black and African Solidarity Show (B.A.S.S.) was created as a platform to put on events that uplift Black expressive culture, creativity and build solidarity around Black identity and African heritage. The community exist as a transcultural representation of Blackness by defining Blackness as something that exists outside the nation-state and across borders.
When the pandemic hit there became an awareness that they still wanted to continue to get together and connect with different pockets of communities across Europe and beyond.
Michele states that “In Berlin, Black and African communities are much smaller than other communities, and I hadn’t had a lot of experience or contact with Black-led events that came from Black voices since I arrived in Germany 7 years ago. So the mission of B.A.S.S. moved me, and then I started to think about what other ways can we keep this mission alive during this pandemic?”
What does their project mean in terms of public space? Feven states that “Right now is a critical time for Black and African communities across Europe because for the first time we were able to use some of the time away from our hectic working lives and redirect the energies towards our communities.
The CoS Fund will allow us to add more elements to the production of our online events and make sure people still feel connected to our community after interacting with our platform. We have already seen such value in being able to connect with our wider global community, from Uganda to Germany, through this movement into online spaces.
We’ll be able to use our resources to organize online and create a directory where we can further cement the connections using a database. This, in turn, will allow for those engaging on our platform have the resources to support the businesses and endeavours of our community.”
When asked what their project means in terms of European solidarity, Craig explained “The main part of our mission is the idea of transcultural solidarity, the idea of diaspora and idea of connection. I often think that when we think of Black and African identity, it is defined by a narrow scope. You very much can be Black and German, Black and from Amsterdam or from anywhere. It is an identity that is drawn from heritage, and we felt very strongly about the idea of using our creativity as activism. In terms of European solidarity, it’s about carving space for Black joy and building a community around that expression.”
The Solidarity Space
B.A.S.S. project “The Solidarity Space” consists of three parts. A Creative learning festival, a cultural directory and a hybrid/performance art festival.
The creative learning forum is designed to uplift the practices of marginalized creatives across Europe that will allow people to develop a particular artistic practice further or provide a space for conversation and cross-cultural relation.
The second part will be a cultural directory of community organizations that allow for people to have an organized and clear way to contact and get involved with Black and African community organizations across Europe so that people can support them in solidarity.
And the last part is an art festival that will be in Berlin. The art festival will take place in a different European country each year. Both platforms provide an opportunity for collaboration, education, career development, and project sharing, with the intent to create a community sustained through the celebration of Black expressive culture in Europe.
Grant awarded: €15,000