The Charleston Rhizome Collective as part of the 2018 MOJA Arts Festival participated in an experience featuring performing artists OneBeat that brought together sounds and emotions symbolic of the collective’s Tiny Business Initiative at Redux Contemporary Art Center on King Street in Charleston.
The OneBeat musicians are a collective of artists from around the world who infuse music and instrumentation with stories from the communities where they perform. They performed in October at Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street. Redux Operations Director Greg Colleton said the musicians approached the Redux staff with the idea of performing there to help tell the story of tiny businesses in this community. Redux is a non-profit organization that offers studio space to artists and outreach to the community through art classes and after school programs at its location at 1056 King St.
“We wanted to be a part of it because it’s a mission everyone should follow,” Colleton said of the performance. The Tiny Business Initiative invites small/tiny businesses to envision how art and culture can engage economic development and challenge common difficulties. The hope is to create a network of neighborhood businesses to accumulate buying and selling power, engage residents in decisions over business ownership, loans, job training, hiring practices, wholesale prices, schooling and housing.
Charleston Rhizome Collective Co-founder Gwylene Gallimard described the experience as an emotional one. There were two parts that involved Tiny Businesses in a respectful and emotionally moving way, she said. The first involved a reading by Debra Holt of a list of 58 businesses that have closed. Sound and songs invoked a spirit of memorial and of destruction. Many people were touched by names that were remembered and were celebrated by the diverse crowd thanks to the OneBeat crew, she said. Some of those businesses included Wilson’s Pharmacy, Taylor Bakery, Murrell’s Shoe Repair, Dee Dex Snack Bar and some 54 others.
The second part was led by Ricardo Nigaglioni, a Bronx-based musician originally from Puerto Rico, who poetically invited Theron Snype to talk about communication and collaboration, and then Sammy Smalls from Fresh Cuts Barber Shop talked about the beginnings of his business. Both Smalls and Snype were applauded. Smalls said he had never been applauded so much before. Also present was Perrin Middleton from the C.O. Federal Credit Union on Spring Street who posted his appreciation on Instagram.
Middleton characterizes the Tiny Business Initiative as a vehicle that can unite the community and businesses. Charleston Rhizome is bringing unique businesses together in a unifying way, he said, that offers those small businesses ways to help each other and to make themselves familiar to each other and consumers in their communities. The initiative impacts the community in a positive way, Middleton said.