LOCAL Houston | The City Guide May 2017 - Page 41

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE RAW TALENT PUTTING ARTISTIC PASSION ON DISPLAY By Epiphany Ciers | Photography by Jenn Duncan Okay, creatives, gather in. You’ll want to hear this one. RAW is exactly what Houston has been craving. Launched in Los Angeles in 2009, RAW is the world’s largest independent arts orga- nization, and it’s a real game changer. They plan, promote and produce showcases exclusively for emerging indie artists. They find talented artists, provide them with a platform, and the exposure and tools to help them thrive. A true safe haven for hungry artists. They’re in over 60 cities internationally, so of course Houston had to be on the list. “A part of our mission is to support local commu- nities of artists. Houston is a city that is rich in art and culture, and it is a very important city for RAW to be in,” production coordinator Ashley Aminah explains. IMAGINE THIS: a room full of independent artists laying their passion out for you to see. If you’re an artist yourself, you know this is not an easy task. RAW places each participant in front of a crowd of people and lets them do what they do best (nail-biting, yet exciting). A slew of industry professionals are invited to take a glimpse at these talented artists. Amazing, yet RAW does not stop there. They provide each artist with exposure on their organization’s social media pages and include a directory of each artist’s profile on RAW’s website along with exclusive access to a “job board” called RAWk wall. RAW isn’t sitting around waiting for artists to come to them (although you can submit a portfolio on RAWartists.org). There is a team of curation specialists who spend their days scouting and reaching out to artists. Each artist will represent one of the nine crafts the organization focuses on: visual art, fashion, music, film, hair, makeup, photography, performance art and accessories. Along with the curation specialists who search for talent, there is a team of people whose primary focus is to help these artists from the beginning to the end of this amazing rollercoaster. There are booking agents who convey RAW’s mission to interested artists and artist experience directors who then take thos e inter- ested artists under their wings to fully prepare them for the showcase. The directors involved are actually artists themselves. They share the passion and know the struggle all too well, fueling their need to help these artists shine. From pricing their artwork to sharing their ideas, the directors are there side by side with the artist during this journey. That’s a different twist on the business savvy executives that normally manage artists. “We don’t just have them show up for the show. We are constantly communicating with them and are very involved in their process and preparation,” Aminah says. Don’t worry – just because you don’t have much experience does not mean you’ll be overlooked, just the opposite in fact. They truly support the artist at each stage in their career. Again, Aminah: “Since we focus on highlighting artists in the first 10 years of their career, most haven’t shown their work often, or at all!” Listen, here are the deets. There are four showcases each year to support. Each has a different theme to honor the current season and reflect any hot trends, creating an ambiance to set the tone. Excited yet? The next showcase is coming up May 17 at Stereo Live. “RAW is much more than an arts organization. We are a big family,” Aminah applauds. “There is a beauty in having a community connect for a night and work as a team across nine art forms.” may 17 | L O C A L 41