From Six Square, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:
Six Square – Austin’s Black Cultural District (formerly known as Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District) is the first black cultural district in the state of Texas and the only cultural arts district in the city of Austin. The organization was created in 2013 as an outgrowth of the City Council’s African American Quality of Life Initiative, which detailed widespread disparities, racial biases, and a decreasing Black population. Since inception, Six Square has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for African American residents through preservation of historic Black spaces, artistic cultivation, and by serving as a catalyst for social and economic development.
The name Six Square derived as a way to build on the authentic history of African Americans in Austin and create our imagined future. As a part of its 1928 plan, the City of Austin forced Black residents to live within a 6-Square mile boundary to maintain segregationist policies. This “Negro District” became the home of Black residents, businesses, schools, and churches and The District birthed the rich heritage and cultural contributions of Austin’s African American community. Honoring this legacy, Six Square engages residents, cultural institutions, and businesses to preserve the past and shape the future of The District. Working with a diverse group of community partners in the arenas of city planning, urban revitalization, and public arts, Six Square has taken the lead on creative placemaking and works to anchor The District as a Black arts & cultural center, strengthen community connections, and improve the economic landscape.
Six Square Black Cultural Arts District serves as a safe harbor to creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs of color by celebrating, preserving, leveraging, improving the quality of life for, creating awareness about, investing in, and building a pipeline of sustainability and economic development for Black arts, history, and culture in Central East Austin.
Six Square presides over what was formerly known as the "negro" district and leverages the opportunity to serve our creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs through educational opportunities, dynamic exhibits, and courageous and relevant convening of community-based conversations. Six Square is a guidepost for spurring responsible economic development and has done so since its inception in 2013.
The bulk of our work consists of removing obstacles and challenges for the artists, creatives and entrepreneurs that we support. Creatives and entrepreneurs of color face the challenges of systemic disparities, gentrification, as well as lack of access to and/or being uninformed about how to navigate the systems. Despite these challenges, visual artists, musicians, jewelry designers, DJs, dancers, vocalists, culinary artists, filmmakers, producers, fashion designers, and more work diligently to uplift and bring forth their art forms to the community.
You can donate and learn more about our programs at sixsquare.org.