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It’s our second anniversary and we couldn’t be more excited and filled with gratitude for the growth and development both this publication and our physical space have experienced. Over the course of these 24 months, we have learned so much, and from that learning, we know a few things to be true.

interior of a building retail space under construction
The beginnings of ARTE NOIR @Midtown Square

There is the expression (attributed to Rumi, Buddhism, Socrates, and Bernard Meltzer) of having your words pass through three gates to increase one’s mindfulness of the power of words. Testing what we say by the measure of Is it kind, is it true, and is it necessary, has proven to be a solid guide for our approach to sharing information in this newsletter and for our approach to the creation of a Black arts and culture space in Seattle's historic Black community. Two years ago, the focus on spotlighting the brilliance, beauty, and soulfulness of Black art and culture was minimal. We found a necessary spot from which to illuminate Black art, Black artists, and Black culture and the exponential growth of our readership confirms the desire for our dedicated focus. Each month, we come with information that presents a truthful narrative about the enormous contributions being made to our culture by people from across the African Diaspora. And with the exclusion of one instance perhaps when we had to respond with incredulity to the ridiculousness of Florida education restrictions, we believe we have been kind as well.

The three gates test is also applicable to the aesthetic found inside ARTE NOIR and our business approach. More than just commerce, we strive daily to create an environment that is truly reflective of Black culture. The primary responsibility of our staff is to treat all guests with kindness and dignity, letting patrons know that they are welcomed and appreciated. Using art and culture to reclaim space in our neighborhood where displacement had become epidemic is the most necessary and bold thing we could have done. The truth of our intentions is in the impact that we have had.

Interior of a retail shop featuring products made by artisans from the African Diaspora
And now we're here! Captured by Michael B. Maine

Our unique relationships with artists and creatives have yielded outcomes that exceeded what we ever originally imagined. We knew that presenting them with the opportunity to receive upfront payment for their works or products, or 100% of the net proceeds for products that we produce in collaboration and sell, would be a radical act. But the countless amount of hugs we've received and tears of genuine joy shed have touched our hearts and energized our commitment. Many of our artist/vendor collaborators have shared that working with ARTE NOIR marked their first invitation to be amplified and uplifted in this way. What they have experienced is an exponential increase in visibility and focus on their craft, with the added benefit of having more time to simply create. Radical indeed!

As we reflect on the past two years and look toward the future of ARTE NOIR, we are excited to continue expanding access for Black creatives in our community. Our next phase of this work is to complete a small recording studio and a maker space within ARTE NOIR to be made available for the next generation of artists; to learn, play, practice, and create. As we grow our editorial footprint, more writers will also be invited to share this space.

You, our readers and supporters, have shown us untold acts of kindness. You have given us your honest feedback and suggestions, and you have said thank you over and over, validating our necessity.

In gratitude, we celebrate our first two of many years to come!

Vivian Phillips, Founder + Board President

Jazmyn Scott, Executive Director


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