“I’m a very reflective person. I will reflect on an experience/conversation/moment for days. When I’m processing the main word that comes to mind is “value.” What was the value of that experience/conversation/moment – was it worth it? What did it mean? Will I do it again?” – Erick Hodge
At each month’s meeting of CreativeMornings/Charlotte, local creatives are given HUG micro-grants of $250. HUG stands for “Helpful, Unfettered Gifts.” Creatives can apply for HUGs for for-profit or non-profit projects underway in the Queen City. HUGs can be used for everything from boosting social media posts to buying materials to booking event or rehearsal space. Charlotte Is Creative has committed to distributing 250 HUGs to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th anniversary.
In December, Erick Hodge received a HUG Grant to assist with the screening of a documentary he’s created about refugees, migrants, and immigrants in Malta, Sciliy, Rome, and South of France. He is also bringing his work to Charlotte to document refugees, migrants, and immigrants here.
What is your goal when you applied for a HUG?
I wanted to raise funds to cover the costs of hosting a screening for my refugee documentary. My desire is to have the screening in an intimate and reflective setting, to foster conversation and understanding on this dignity topic/issue.
How did you use your HUG?
I haven’t used the funds just yet. Still trying to locate an intimate setting to screen the documentary that has good sound and a decent video display. Receiving the HUG grant did inspire me to raise more funds and I raised $2,610 so far.
What’s your experience been like in Charlotte’s creative community? What’s working? What isn’t?
This is going to sound cynical, but I’m working through it. Charlotte has been one of the least creative communities and cities I have ever been apart of (I have lived all over the world – NYC, Tampa, Hawaii, Germany, Dallas, to name a few).
• People are hungry (they want to build and create)
• There has never been a better time
• Opportunities are growing
• Unique voices will be heard in the midst of the noise
• Folks are trying to create networks/avenues/platforms for real creative things to be digested.
What’s not working:
• Charlotte is dominated by white/southern platforms & publications (things are written and culturally expressed by a dominant culture) – it’s hard for minorities to have their voice heard in the midst of established platforms. Many times, minorities have to create their own platforms and then those platforms become inclusive and “their own corner.” I don’t see a lot of platforms where voices are shared equally. For example — what gets the most attention creatively in Charlotte is food and the city skyline. Food = culture here. I think food is one thing that highlights creativity, but shouldn’t be Queen. Every photo of the city skyline is celebrated as though a creative feat of wonder has been accomplished. Don’t get me wrong. I love the skyline, but taking a photo of that doesn’t define Charlotte.
• We need many different voices and avenues of expression to be digested. I think overall we need to value the “other” and let artists express themselves without being put into a box of “how to.” The old regard for doing things needs to die — no more living in the shadow and comparison of another city or idea. Time to be original (nothing new under the sun) and create and build something together.
• Things are very territorial in Charlotte. I see a need to collaborate more freely and across different platforms and fields. People hold things with a very tight fist instead of open hands.
• One last thing, if I hear someone/publication/company say they want to change Charlotte or the world through their art, I might lose my mind. Personally, I don’t believe that should be the goal, nor do I believe that’s possible. Create good art and let it speak for itself.
• Creativity isn’t something you can always put a monetary value on.
What drives you forward?
I like to process things deeply. I’m a very reflective person. I will reflect on an experience/conversation/moment for days. When I’m processing the main word that comes to mind is “value.” What was the value of that experience/conversation/moment – was it worth it? What did it mean? Will I do it again? So, if there is anything I can share with Charlotte it would be let’s know our own value and work to make sure others know theirs, as well.
I want every interaction I have with someone to have value. Life happens and I know it isn’t always possible but as much as it depends on me I try to make that happen. When we value others I believe peoples’ guards come down and there is an opportunity to have a real relationship. In Charlotte/South, relationships can be disingenuous if people hide behind that “southern charm” or hustle so hard that they run people over. I personally don’t have time for either, because I’m committed to valuing others. Not always trying to gain something from someone.
How can the creative community support you in 2019?
Gonna answer this for myself and others …
• Create meaningful connections that go from online to real life
• Celebrate others! Genuinely celebrate. Encourage them. (It actually makes you happier, too.)
• Call out unhealthy behavior — lying, unhealthy competing, jealousy, fakeness, etc.
• Share work. Send gigs. Create gigs. Invite others to gigs.
• Self care. Take time to recharge and make space to help others do that, as well.
Who are some of your favorite creatives in Charlotte?
Going to name 5, no particular order:
What advice do you have for Charlotte creatives?
• Don’t give up even when it feels like you should.
• Don’t lose hope in people. There are good people out there.
• Work on your craft. Put those hours in. It’s worth it.
• Reach out to people. (Don’t get too sad if they don’t reach back out.)
• Add value to Charlotte. (Don’t absorb it or take any away.)
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