Conversations | Activation Residency
We speak with Kamra Hakim about the Black trans-led residency, created by artists for artists.
In our third post about artists building community, we interviewed Kamra Hakim of Activation Residency about their work organizing opportunities for underserved artists to make and share their work. Activation, a project in NYFA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program, is a Black trans-led artist residency that aims to generate a safe, collaborative space that adapts to its residents’ needs and creates portals to futures that are needed now. Located in Woodridge, NY, in the Southern Catskill mountains, the residency activates the creative practice of each participating resident—redistributing access, resources, and care as well as play with the means of production.
Read our previous conversations with Art on the Avenue co-founder Barbara Anderson and STONELEAF RETREAT co-founder Helen Toomer, and see our full interview with Hakim below.
NYFA: How has Activation Residency changed/grown/morphed since its founding?
Kamra Hakim: Activation Residency has become incorporated as an LLC, built an online identity through social media, and created online programming like consent workshops and Activation TV. The residency also now has the financial capacity to support artists’ attendance from beginning to end and beyond. The residency is a service by artists for artists, with the feel of an authentic community.
NYFA: How have you built your audience over time? How has your audienced changed/grown?
KH: Our audience has been built by folks’ desire to be more involved in supporting and uplifting Black trans lives and artistry. Our audience became predominantly white last year after George Floyd’s public murder when white folks were looking for Black organizations to affiliate with.
NYFA: What does it mean to be a creator/organizer who is working with the community?
KH: Community is responsible for and accountable to itself. I continue to challenge myself and other spacemakers to distinguish between community and providing services. While Activation Residency has a community feel, it is a service we provide artists year after year. We do not expect our artists to be accountable to us nor do we expect them to trust us enough to form community bonds. If that does happen, it is lovely and we hold space for it, but we do not claim to build community as community requires long lasting sustainable relationships and that is not always possible during short term residency stays.
Community is responsible for and accountable to itself. I continue to challenge myself and other spacemakers to distinguish between community and providing services.-Kamra Hakim
NYFA: Your work organizing Activation Residency is important for creating an arts ecosystem because it provides time and space for artists. How do you go about connecting with the artists that you want to participate in your programs?
KH: I build relationships with people. It has proven to be the most effective way to get artists closer to their needs being met within an arts ecosystem.
NYFA: What role do grants play in your fundraising?
KH: I am the lead fundraiser. Every dollar that has been fundraised for Activation Residency has been under my leadership and direction.
NYFA: How has working with a fiscal sponsor built your work and when did you decide that you needed/wanted a sponsor for this project?
KH: I knew that the project would only garner big dollar support with 501(c)(3) status. I applied for a fiscal sponsorship with NYFA before I knew how valuable it would be. It has given us access to funds we would not otherwise have.
I applied for fiscal sponsorship with NYFA before I knew how valuable it would be. It has given us access to funds we would not otherwise have.-Kamra Hakim
– Interview conducted by Alicia Ehni, Program Officer, Fiscal Sponsorship
NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship’s quarterly no-fee application deadlines are June 30, September 30, December 31, and March 31. We also accept Out-of-Cycle Review applications year-round. Reach out to us at [email protected] for more information. Sign up for NYFA’s free bi-weekly newsletter to receive updates on future programs.