Juneteenth Festival To Highlight Artists Of Color

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By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio 

The festival, called 515 Manifestival, will focus specifically on artists of color and other artists from marginalized groups, all across Iowa. This includes Black, brown and Asian artists as well as artists that identify within the LGBTQ+ community.

Buffy Jamison, who uses they/them pronouns, co-created the festival along with artist Indigo Morre. They said one reason it will take place on Juneteenth is because although the event is open for all artists of color, it has a Black focus.

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“During this time, for people of color especially, we know that these are the populations that were hardest hit by the pandemic. We know that these are the populations that have always been marginalized in this society, and it’s super important to have spaces for us that are specific to us,” Jamison said.

June 19, “Juneteenth,” commemorates slave emancipation. June is also Pride Month, they added.

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“It’s so incredibly important to have a space like that, especially in times like this. We know that in times of great grief, and in times of civil unrest, there usually is a huge cultural boom. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because art is therapeutic. Art is hope,” Jamison said. “It’s a form of getting out whatever emotions you need to get out, and without being judged for it.”

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The Des Moines event will be free to attend and available both in person and virtually. Artists who participate will receive a free booth or platform to advertise and sell their art, in whatever form it comes in.

515 Manifest will also highlight more unconventional artwork from people of color, like tattoos, hair styles and even interior design.

Jamison said now is the time to support artists of color who were not considered essential workers during the height of the pandemic.

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“Giving artists this platform, and making it a free event is another way of giving them the opportunity to make money and the opportunity to be told by folks that yes, indeed, the arts are essential and are super important and always have been,” they said.

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