It’s safe to say GANGGANG has survived the first phase of a startup, where an idea stands on wobbly knees and seems just as likely to fall as it is to stand.
Co-founder Alan Bacon said that’s because the creative community in Indianapolis was ready for the cultural development firm when he started it with Malina Jeffers in November 2020.
“We’ve truly been blessed to do this type of work,” Bacon said. “Just humbled by the response of people. Not only the creatives we serve but the entire Indianapolis community.”
GANGGANG has had big-time exposure, including booking more than 200 performances during the NCAA basketball tournament in 2021, but it was a fine art fair that marked a turning point for the organization.
BUTTER was a multi-day fair in September 2021 that gave Black artists in Indianapolis opportunities to expand their portfolios and get more eyes on their work. It took off in the community, and Bacon said he was especially proud because it was the first time GANGANG got to create its own vision for something rather than working through a partnership with other groups.
Artists kept all of the money from sales. Before the fair, Jeffers told the Recorder she wanted to bring the feel of a high-end art event to the Midwest.
“There are art shows here in town that feature Black artists,” she said, “and we just thought we could do shows better justice and be more intentional and authentic and figure out how we can elevate the narrative around the Black talent in Indianapolis.”
Bacon said the next BUTTER event will be Labor Day weekend.
GANGGANG also partnered with the Recorder to create a mural at the Stutz Business Center as part of BUTTER. The mural, “Keepers of Culture,” creates a 3D effect and features eight Black icons from Indianapolis, including actress Vivica A. Fox and local creatives Rob Dixon and Mariah Ivey.
GANGGANG is big now, making it to the pages of The New York Times and being recognized as a 2021 Newsmaker by the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The next step forward for the organization is a fellowship program, Naptown Next Up, that launched in late 2021.
Bacon said the goal is to find emerging artists in Indianapolis — ones who are “right at the ceiling of success” — and give them the type of investment that goes beyond just getting their next gig.
It’s a natural progression from the foundation of GANGGANG because, in both cases, Bacon said it’s about answering complex questions.
What does it mean to truly invest in an artist? What does equity look like?
GANGGANG is finding out.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.