Before she even owned a mic or had the slightest idea how to podcast, Dr. Pia Deas founded Contemporary Black Canvas (CBC) and set out with the goal of highlighting the leading emerging and established contemporary Black artistic voices.
“On the podcasts that are creatively oriented, I would say 99.9 percent of the artists they invite are white. You would never know Black artists exist on these podcasts and I was getting angrier and angrier,” explains Deas.
Determined to see a change and create equal representation, Pia secured funding from the Leeway Foundation, which paid for equipment for the podcast. At the same time, she also turned to CultureWorks to help with back-office support. Instead of feeling the anxiety of handling administrative tasks; Pia worked diligently to create CBC, as CultureWorks handled all of the fiduciary responsibilities and back-office administration through our fiscal sponsorship program.
Since its initial inception in the spring of 2016, Contemporary Black Canvas has grown rapidly and now houses four interrelated projects: the CBC Podcast Main Series, The Black Arts Movement Audio Archive, the CBC LIVE! Event series, and a research assistant and apprenticeship program for undergraduate and post-graduate students. Together, these four projects raise the visibility of Black artists, situate Black artists within a Black intellectual framework, promote the exchange of ideas across communities, and empower Black artists and their communities.
“I really like CultureWorks’ model because it not only allows me to have a workspace, but also gives me the connections, human resources support and fiscal home that I wouldn’t be able to do individually."
Pia also makes sure young Black voices are involved in the podcast. "I wanted my students to see that we have a vibrant culture now." During an interview with Geneorcity, Madison Washington, a research assistant for Contemporary Black Canvas and a Pan-Africana Studies major shared the importance of the podcast: "It’s important to identify yourself with people who look like you,” said Washington.
The people identified through Contemporary Black Canvas include: Poet, Yolanda Wisher, Visual Artist, Akili Ron Anderson, and Founder of North Philly Peace Park and fellow CultureWorks member, Tommy Joshua.