On a trip with her students to St. Helena Island, South Carolina, Christmas was inspired by the resilience of the Gullah people, African American descendants of people liberated from slavery who have managed to maintain a unique creole culture and tight-knit enclave through a long history of property ownership and accords between neighbors. Citing the lack of suburban sprawl, gentrification, and chain stores that mar so much of the New South, the community struck her as a model that should be imported up north.
In a way, she sees Muse 360’s separation from its long-time Howard Street home as a serendipitous step towards the goal of permanently owning and directing her own space that can be passed down to future generations of creatives.
“I think about ownership in ways that will create easier pathways for the future, because right now—renting from this place and that place, you gotta do what you can,” Christmas says. “But if you can actually take on the challenge of owning a space and you have the skillset to do so, or you have the support to do so, I’d say that that’s the way for us to go. It’s not that I believe in capitalism to that extent—but I think that for me, owning space right now is not about making quadruple amounts of money off people that really can’t afford it. But if we all shift our mindset to owning, then who can kick us out? Us being creatives, and us being cultural workers and artists, that’s fabulous! We love that! We love being creative. We love it, but that’s not gonna get us anywhere if we don’t think about spaces to plant our roots.”
As an important step in building this new future for Muse 360, Christmas is optimistic her community will turn out this weekend to support the move to a permanent home, all while celebrating everything that has been accomplished in their old one.
WE DID THAT! kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, with a cocktail reception, followed by a 7 p.m. screening of the event’s eponymous hour-long documentary. The night will close out with live performances, music, and dance until 11 p.m. Sliding-scale tickets are available on Eventbrite.
The Eubie Blake Cultural Center is located at 847 N. Howard Street in the Bromo Seltzer Arts District.