Here in our very own city of soul, The Collective, otherwise known as The CLTV, operates within its powerful mission to elevate and empower black artists by creating a foundation for artistic development, infrastructure expansion, and social impact of Black artists in Memphis. Through hands-on professional and creative development, The CLTV assists black artists to apply for residency programs, shares project and job opportunities, as well as aids the artists in teaching workshops for the public. The organization has previously held shows and functions around the city, featuring the Orange Mound Gallery as one of its primary exhibit locations. Alongside cultivating professional and creative development growth efforts for black artists in Memphis, The CLTV runs an afterschool program at Melrose High School where students have a chance to learn through creative expression and peer connection. Weekly, students work on murals, create newsletters, and have meetings with successful local black artists to get an inside view of art from a business perspective. Recently, The CLTV moved into a permanent space in the Orange Mound neighborhood, extenuating the importance of cultural dynamics throughout the region.
A space for space
Victoria Jones, Executive Director of The CLTV explains that when searching for a permanent location for the organization, it was important to choose a space that represented the black culture and the future of black art in Memphis. After viewing locations in other sects of the city such as Crosstown Concourse and Midtown, the team realized that the potential creative energy of the already thriving Orange Mound would allow The CLTV to provide a platform for the black community in its entirety. Positioned in South Memphis, Orange Mound is historically known for being the first community established for and by African Americans in the South, as well as being an essential region for the establishment and prosperity of black-owned businesses and culture. The neighborhood was designated a Preserve America Community in 2016 by First Lady Michelle Obama who described Orange Mound as a “treasured place in the American story.” The Preserve America Community award is an honor which recognizes communities that protect and celebrate their heritage, use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization, and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs. Today, the area features some of the highest civic pride and engagement in the city as new developments such as the Orange Mound Senior Center become established. The CLTV’s new space features a large open gallery in the front of the building with walls that already mount local black photography and art projects. In the back of the building, artists and students have access to a large workshop stocked with art supplies and an ample amount of space for freedom of creative expression. Currently, the organization consists of fourteen staff members who work entirely on a volunteer status for students and local artists in the community. The CLTV is continuing to prepare the new space for its grand public opening on January 11th, 2019.
Art gives people hope
The CLTV focuses on caring for themselves and each other differently. By giving black artists the tools to ethically engage in communities, the organization fights to shift cultural inequality through elevating a consistent spotlight on art within the black community. Jones states that the significance and importance of black culture are rooted throughout Memphis history and The CLTV team seeks to make that known by showcasing and cultivating black art.
“The wider our platform becomes, the more black artists become involved and the louder their voices get.”
– Victoria Jones, Executive Director of The CLTV
Looking forward into 2019, The CLTV hopes to plant a strong stake in the ground with its new permanent space and residency programming. After the grand opening, there will be about twelve large shows every year and smaller-scaled shows every 3 weeks, along with performing arts and concert series all year long. Community members, as well as those looking to become involved, can donate money or feasible and age-appropriate art supplies to The CLTV, sign up for newsletters and volunteer events, and of course, continue to bring their soul to Memphis.
For more information on The CLTV, head to the official website!