Knowing that artists have been especially struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, Martinez White has created a stand-alone fund for performing artists, painters, musicians, writers, dancers, graffiti artists, and more to give them the support they need to keep doing the great work that they do.
“Many artists were struggling already and then the pandemic came and made it worse,” White tells Madison365. “Artists have been pushed to the margins in our culture, unfortunately, and we need to support their work.”
The idea initially came to White a few weeks go.
“I was really struggling to find a way to respond to what’s going on with George Floyd as a Black man with a son,” he remembers. “I was really contemplating my response: what could I do to add value to the movement?”
White talked with about 15 of his community mentors about it. “I talked to older Black folks and I talked to younger people. I talked to community leaders like Rev. Gee and Urban Triage. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what I could do to add value,” he says.
“I got about six calls from people who are artists in the city – black women, people of color, Mexican artists, a variety of people – asking for help financially because they had run out of money,” White remembers. “They couldn’t support themselves.”
White was able to help them on a personal level. “But I was like, ‘Man, I’m running out of money to help people.’ I thought that maybe I could use my social currency to get other people to support our artists,” he says.
With that, the “Keep The Movement Moving” Artist Fund was born to raise money for Madison-area artists who have been especially struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. White is a well-known financial advisor with deep roots in the community and a longtime dee-jay so he knew that people already trusted him to start this fund and help it grow.
“The art aspect is so important to the movement – look at State Street. If there were no visual artists there would be no ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Defund Police’ on the streets,” White says. “George Floyd wouldn’t have a humanism to him beyond what we saw in the video. Throughout history that has been the case. The art tells the story. That helped me come to the decision to raise some money for the artists.”
Since White put the fundraiser up on Facebook, it has picked up momentum quickly. So far, it has raised almost $4,000.
On the page, White says that artists can send their Instagrams, websites, photos of pieces to him directly via social media (INSTA:@djmwhite or Facebook). From there, all recipient selections will be by curation, and their work must be a piece to commemorate the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“I would love to be able to host an event if we can. I’m hoping to do something in the vein of a Melanated MarketPlace where we can bring together Black folks who are artists who can display their work at a big event and people can come in and buy their work,” he says.
White says that 100 percent of the funds he raises will support those who represent the community’s voice through art.
“It’s exciting. I’m learning about new and talented artists all the time because of this,” White says. “They have a great message in their art. It’s exciting to see the community get behind this.”