GANGGANG - Cultural Development at 64th and College - by Mario Morone
posted: Jun. 01, 2023
GANGGANG is an Indianapolis-based cultural development firm on a mission to produce, preserve, and promote culture and the creative economy. They are located in Broad Ripple at 6410 North College Avenue. In 2020, co-founders Mali and Alan Bacon, Jr. had an idea to reveal the power of the creative economy by starting an organization that would cause a cultural renaissance.
GANG GANG's office is located at 6410 N. College Avenue.
image courtesy of Mario Morone
Mali described GANGGANG: "This is an organization, but it needs to be incubated for a while before it takes off on its own like a start-up. It's like a cultural start-up. We thought that Indianapolis could have a cultural start-up that could blossom fairly quickly. It's worth more than a department or an organization and it's worth more than an equity plan. This deserves focus - purely thinking about equity within the arts in Indianapolis."
GANG GANG staff discuss their work at a recent conference.
image courtesy of GANG GANG
A full-length video clip of GANGGANG's early journey can be seen at: GANGGANG Vlog 2023 Trailer
In 2021, Mali and Alan Bacon, co-founders of GANGGANG, got a building and got to work. Per Alan, "One of the things about the Afro-American culture is that we are one of the most creative people in the world. This is how we grow the entrepreneurial system and accelerate it because people can get now paid for doing art and culture."
Keri Kirschner, a communications specialist at GANGGANG, explained, "Being a creative advocacy agency is kind of one way that we think about it, almost like a hybrid non-profit meets creative agency model, in the traditional and non-traditional sense. Our real sweet spot is the development of cultural events, programs, and advocacy campaigns that help bolster black artists and creatives that are often underserved and under-recognized. GANGGANG is really helping to fill this gap."
"Our signature project is BUTTER, a black fine art fair, which was created to test new models of equity. GANGGANG puts on the fair, covers all the costs with the help of generous corporate sponsors, and then we take zero commissions on the sale of the artwork." In 2021, the first annual BUTTER attracted 3,400 people. And in 2022, BUTTER at the Stutz building drew 42 artists and 8,000 people, with weekend art sales totaling $250,000. The art fair was so successful that it even found its way onto the cover of The New York Times Arts section in December," she noted.
The value and worth of participating artists because clear after BUTTER, with 12 national artists selling work alongside 30 local artists. One of the artists even moved here from Kentucky because he liked the scene so much.
In 2022, the BUTTER brought in $300,000 in corporate dollars. This year, the team hopes to raise half a million, under the direction of the first ever BUTTER Fine Art Fair Director, Deonna Craig, an artist who sold all of her work at BUTTER in years one and two.
BUTTER will take place again over on Labor Day weekend, which is from Thursday, August 30 through Sunday, September 3, in the Stutz Building. There will be 50 artists hoping to achieve do $450,000 in art sales that weekend. Around 12,000 attendees are expected.
BUTTER was named by Alan, who draws inspiration from the 1980s and 1990s saying "like butter", as well as from the actual dairy product. It makes everything richer and taste better. And it's easily spreadable. The BUTTER wordmark pulls inspiration from butter package designs found in stores.
In addition to BUTTER, the development firm GANGGANG is also working on In The Mix, a real estate-based program that supports black businesses by helping owners to relocate or expand downtown. The program encourages a sustainable transition for these black businesses by covering location repair costs, aiding in leasing term negotiations, and providing marketing assistance. GANGGANG will also be providing some creative direction for the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend here in the city, in addition to working alongside the Indiana Pacers. On August 25, the group will be supporting a George Clinton concert at Rock the Ruins in Holliday Park, and on August 26, GANGGANG can be found at the full-day hip hop festival event called Chreece (combining the words 'Cheers' and 'Peace') in Fountain Square.
Local artist works at GANG GANG's BUTTER event Day 3.
image courtesy of Chantal Dominiqiue
Mali and Alan are originally from Indianapolis, and they have long family histories here. They have stayed and remained true to their roots of cultural development here in Indianapolis, all while raising five teenagers.
"The best way to learn more about GANGGANG and to keep up with all of the events and projects going on is through GANGGANG's Instagram and Facebook pages," she added. They be found at: instagram.com/ganggangculture
and their Facebook page is at: www.facebook.com/ganggangculture