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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Research focuses on resilience of Black arts and culture

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Beyond both working at IUPUI, Joseph Edmonds and Lasana Kazembe have something else in common: Their daughters are both in the same dance class. Despite setbacks created by COVID-19, virtual classes allowed their daughters to stay in class.

Both Edmonds and Kazembe noticed early in the pandemic that both the pandemic and the “racial uprising” happening around the nation disproportionately impacted African American arts and cultural institutions.

The team started a research project aiming to determine the true impact the pandemic had on local Black institutions and how organizations persevered in the face of setbacks. Working with the IU Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy, they sent surveys to six Indianapolis organizations to gauge their needs and concerns.

While Edmonds and Kazembe are still combing through data, they said Black organizations continue to serve the community despite economic roadblocks.

“They’re still doing programming in the face of being negatively impacted,” Edmonds said. “They’re still producing high quality outputs, online services, despite everything going on.”

While most Hoosiers have felt the effects of the pandemic, Kazembe said there are plenty of ways the community can support local organizations. 

“A love offering is always helpful,” Kazembe said. “Revolving donations as little as $5 to in-kind donations of materials lying around your home, like books. It helps to be in communication to find out what [organizations] need.”

The next step of the study will be focus groups to analyze the results. That information will help determine how organizations fared during the pandemic and how the community can continue to support them. 

“What we’re seeing in this moment … is these organizations have the desire to collaborate and a commitment to their mission even in the face of all of this,” Edmonds said. “We’re also seeing the community recognizing, in the midst of a pandemic, we have to rely even more on our local community and be accountable to one another.”

A website containing all the data Kazembe and Edmonds received is expected to go live early next year. 

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper. 

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