Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow's leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you're new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you're in the right place.
Dana: My friend, my friend, welcome towards the move me. I'm Dana and I have another good one for you today. We are continuing on our Money March adventure with one of my absolute favorite people, a woman who has opened my eyes to a whole new money model of the world. Her name is Geri Brown, and Geri is a fabulous example of a multi-dimensional human, a leader, a teacher, a woman.
Um, she is a self-proclaimed musical theater nerd, and she's also an entrepreneur and certified fundraising expert. Um, and she's even much, much more than that. So you'll see, you'll find out in this episode, Geri and I talk about business with a focus on starting. She also gives us three essential steps for putting the fun in fundraising, which I know sounds like a cliche, but y'all, I am serious. It is actually fun. I have had fun fundraising lately. Thanks to Geri. And I think that you will too. Once you follow these three steps, um, then we close it out, talking about impact and why raising money and having money matters. Spoiler alert, money matters because it is almost always required to make big, sustainable change. And y'all are dance world is pretty clearly in need of big and sustainable changes. We're going to talk about some heavy stuff, some heavy topics trigger warning.
his episode does mention suicide and sexual abuse, abusive power, verbal abuse. Um, and we also address and suggest some policy changes that will be essential to healing and helping our communities. You will want to take notes on this episode and you can totally do that with the help of our episode, PDF companions. Those are available for every episode of Money March. Uh, they can be found in the online store at thedanawilson.com/shop. And at the end of this month, all of the money March episodes will be put into a bundle and sold altogether. So if you are listening to this episode after its release, it's funny to say that everyone's listening to it after it's released. Um, if you're listening to this episode outside of March, 2022, please consider, uh, listening to all of the Money March episodes and getting those PDF worksheets so that you can get your notes and your numbers all committed to the page.
You can actually print them out and write them, or you can commit them to pixels. If you are the pixel type, okay, let us move forward. I am very, very excited to dig into this episode, but first wins. We start every episode off with wins here, at words that move me and today I am celebrating an extra fun one. Sometimes I celebrate like my plants didn't die or like I have a win like that. But this one is like, uh, it's like a parfait. It's many layers of winning. So get ready for it today. I am celebrating a words that move me field trip to Vegas for New York city dance Alliance. I taught six classes and saw three shows into action packed nights. And now my heart is action packed. It is love packed. Um, it is purpose packed. So thank you, Riley Higgins for joining me and making such a fun trip out of it.
Holy smokes, Phi thank you so much for the hookup at Jabbawockeez. I can't say enough good things about that show. I was dancing in my seat and occasionally on my feet for that entire, what was it? Hour and 15 minutes. Shout out to the stamina y'all of the Jabbawoockez who danced for almost an hour and 15 minutes straight with the exception of the short break where, oh guys, this is one of the sub wins. I was volunteered as tribute for a crowd participation moment in the Jaguar walkie show that required me to sing into a microphone in front of the entire auditorium theater. What do we call it was at theater. For those of you who've been listening to the podcast for a while. You know, my thoughts about me singing and you know that I'm maybe not so recently, but like in the last like year recovering from vocal cord surgery, I was terrified.
I almost passed out. I almost actually walked out of the theater and then I saw the song that I would be singing was no scrubs by TLC. And then I took that microphone with probably a disproportionate amount of confidence and had so much fun singing in a room full of people. Holy smokes. That's a huge win. Okay. Also while I'm on the shout out front, super shout out to Alison fault for your work on Magic Mike, it was so excellent. 10 out of 10 would recommend, especially for anyone who needs to be reminded of the value of a good body roll. I mean, come on Liinda. Oh, you were fantastic. One of my favorite parts of the show was your duet with Ryan, Ryan. You were also fabulous. Um, also hello out there to my new friend, Chelsea, the host of the show, you were fabulous.
Um, and speaking of fabulous, my friends, I saw silk frickin sonic on Saturday night, I mean, I don't want to get carried away here in the wind section. This wind section could honestly be its whole episode. So I will simply say this. The show is a must-see go see silk Sonic Anderson pack in Bruno Mars. You are a match made in heaven and you are extra heavenly because of the, the moves the swagger brought to you by the SB, Phil Tayag, your work. My friend is exceptional the way I see it. It is the center circle of the Venn diagram that represents minimum effort and maximum impact. The show was just cool. It was sexy. It was perfect. It was, it was like low effort, high impact. It was simply so good. I am grinning ear to ear. Just thinking about it. Congratulations, Phil. Congratulations Phi. Thank you. Jabbawoockez. Thank you, Alison. Thank you. Magic Mike. Thank you, body rolls. And thank you Vegas. My friends, I, I think it's safe to say that a what happens in Vegas episode is 100% coming through the pipeline. There's a lot of interesting work out there. There's a way to have a, a very well supported life as a creative type in Vegas. I'm very interested in it. I have a lot of questions. I want to answer them. I will be getting you an episode about Vegas. Um, just as soon as we're done with money March and aesthetic April, I haven't told you about that yet, but I have plans for April. Get ready? Um, get set. And now go because it's your turn to share your win. What is going well in your world? The Vegas lately seen any good virals lately. Tell me everything.
Congratulations, my friend. I am so proud of you. I'm glad that you're winning. Keep crushing, keep doing what you're doing and of course keep it funky. Um, that was weird. It's weird to say, keep it funky in the middle of the episode instead of at the end. Now I know, and now it is time to move on. Let's get into it. I truly cannot wait for you to meet this week's guest. I can't wait for you to hear her voice, uh, as in what she has to say, but also she has a lovely singing voice. So let's do this. Let's get into it. My friends, my family, my movers and shakers. This is Geri Brown. Enjoy
Dana: Geri, my friend. You have made a big impact on me in a, in a very short time. And I'm thrilled to be talking to you today. Thank you so much for being here.
Geri: Thank you for having me.
Dana: Oh my gosh. Are we going to sing or what? We're going to sing. We're going to dance. We're going to talk about money. Um, you're here today during money March. I don't know if you can see it. Actually, I am wearing my money hat. This is my money hat, it’s really cool. And uh, I think, I think you're going to help us put the fun in fundraising today, but actually your expertise goes way, way, way beyond fundraising. Um, so I will yield the floor and let you tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Geri: Yeah. Well thank you again. I think that the work that you're doing for the dance community, for artists, for storytellers, it's so valuable and you've had a profound impact on me in the short amount of time. We've known each other as well. So I thank you for being, So I think that I will say that if I had a tattoo on my arm, it would be when I was frustrated, I created. And that has kind of led me to the work that I do today and the organizations I run. So I feel like we all have a superhero origin story because we are the superheroes of our own lives. And for me, my origin story actually starts with my grandmother who actually started dancing during segregation. And she was in a show called Reynolds Old Chillums and she, um, introduced Audrey Davis to Ruby Dee and she fought for equity and they had spaces that were, you know, not for her cause you know, theater Broadway was actually segregated during my time. And then my mom, uh, wonderful. She's the best dancer choreographer I've ever like ever known. She's amazing. She's just, she's just amazing. Um, so she self-taught herself had a tap dance by watching gene Kelly videos and was extraordinary and assisted Gregory Hines during the cotton club audition.
And he was like, you know, D you're really talented, but you're too light to be black and you're too black to be white. So like, you're going to have to pave your way in this industry. And she did. And she was like, okay, I'm going to audition for Latin and Latin X roles. And I'm not going to try to be anybody other than who I am, but like at least my color tone can fit in these circles. And so she did Zoot suit in LA Bomba and then the Wiz hired every single black person they could find. So she did the Wiz with Diana Ross and she toured with dance theater of Harlem and did all these amazing things. And she really paved her own way and fought for equity in the performing arts. And I, uh, that's in my DNA and I carry that with me.
I think a lot of the work that I do is honor them and honor of my little self, my a little version of me. So, um, I went to school, so I feel like I sing when I talk all the time. I'm like, my name is Jeremy, like all the time. Um, because I'm a musical theater person. I got my, my BFA in musical theater while I was at school. I experienced a lot of racism and trauma. And basically just told like, as the black artists, I was that focused, didn't know what to do with me. And that for a child, for somebody that's brain still developing our brains, don't fully develop until they're 25 is neglect. And, you know, I was told so many things from like, um, like I, like, I don't know what to do with you, like actually, um, because I wasn't fitting the stereotype of who they thought I should be as a black artist, as a black performer.
And so since the only thing I ever wanted to do was be a musical theater performance artist. A couple of years after I graduated college, I tried to kill myself. And I think that's really important to my origin story because I took the worst day of my life and I transformed it into these four wonderful organizations that are building spaces and changing the lenses of how arts education could be. And I never want any other person to ever experience what I experienced. So from, you know, the worst day of my life, I'm a survivor came the most hope that I hope is impacting people all over. So I run liberate artists, Inc. I'll tell you about these organizations, but I'll talk all about, you know, we'll talk more about running organizations, being an entrepreneurial..
Lay it out for us, and then we will pack.
Yeah. So I run liberate artist, which is a dance and performing arts organization that builds confidence and promote social growth in young people, by reminding all that you are enough exactly. As you are in the skin and body you are in. And yeah, I just think that's important about my younger self. Yeah. Right. I just think about my younger self. And I think liberate artists came from like, what I wish I had as a kid. And like people knew your name and, you know, people were different. Like there were different people of different backgrounds. There, there was colorfulness in the space. And when you walked in, you saw somebody that looked like you. I like never had black teacher throughout all of my education. And it's important to see yourself represented in spaces in which you want to be in. Um, so from that, I started always enough foundation, which is a 5 0 1 C3 nonprofit that breaks the economic barriers to access that keep kids out of performing arts. So we cover tuition, travel accommodations and meals for dancers and performing artists to attend dance, competitions, conventions, and equitable performing arts organizations,
Ah, John Pitts for yes, Jerry, oh, carry on. As if we needed any more. This is, this is tremendous. I, let me step out of your way please.
Um, number three is dance education equity association. And we provide organizations and individuals with the support tools, education, and actual steps to build safer, more equitable and inclusive educational dance spaces through anti-racist anti other anti abusive policy procedure and accountability practices.
And this is massive. And we're going to, we're going to be discussing this in a very big way today.
Yeah. I'm excited too. And I feel like right now, uh, hope is so important to be able to instill and, and provide access to. So I'm excited for that. And finally, in my newest organization is boundary issues, media, which a media company that essentially chooses one topic that we tell a story through multiple platforms. So we use traditional and digital media and then a percentage of every dollar that comes in, goes directly to the communities that we're telling stories about. So the first story is about, um, the wonderful Marsha P. Johnson, who is a black and trans activist and the intersectional relationship between her and a black woman like myself. And we tell this story through a musical I've been working on for the last 12 years. It's a spoken word musical. Maybe I'll do some from y'all sometime. Um, let us go. As spoken word musical and then, uh, through a documentary. And then we're also going to be hiring trans and queer storytellers to kind of continue the story of Marsha as of today. And so a percentage of all dollars that come in through ad sales, um, everything will go to the Marsha P Johnson Institute. So we call it media with a purpose or Tom shoes for media,
Geri freakin brown, that is the loveliest most inspiring and heavy and also light and very bright introduction that we have ever had on the podcast. Thank you for, for you and for all of these organizations that that will be your legacy and will, will help progress our, our world. I was going to say our community, but it really is the, uh, the roots when they're deep, the tree grows big. And so the branches reach wide. So this is, this is extremely exciting. I'm really, really glad that you're here. Can't wait to dig in on some of this stuff. I think maybe the most obvious place to start after hearing about all of the creation that you are responsible for might be to talk about. Um, entrepreneurial-ism and just that word itself actually cause whoa, what a mouthful. Um, I really, I think most of my listeners are dancers, choreographers, possibly studio owners. There are people in, in or invested in the dance community, although I do definitely. I'm not ignoring you other creative types. I see you there. I see. Um, I think most of my listeners are creative in some way, but probably all of them have a seed of entrepreneurial sensibility that just means watering. Um, so I, I would love to hear about from your perspective, starting a business, treating yourself as a business and in general, the business mindset that has helped you along the way.
Yeah. I think that is really important. And for me, the biggest lesson that I think I've learned is that instead of spending money to solve problems, like have a hat culture mentality and raise money to solve problems. And then once that money is acquired to really spend carefully and spend like you don't have it. I think being somebody that didn't come in with like a lot of venture capital, which is essentially like money from angel investors or from venture capital investors, is that I learned how to get by, by not having a lot of financial access. And that was the greatest scams because I was like, okay, like if I had a hundred thousand dollars, I would have bought this, but I didn't. So like, how do I get to the same results without having access to that money? Even when I have it, even when I get that a hundred thousand, I'm like, do I really need to spend this? Or am I just spending it because I have access to it?
Uh huh. So this, this notion of being beyond responsible, but like frugal, always looking for bang for the buck or how to spread out what you have. Um, do you have any great examples of that? I can think of a handful in my experience, albeit maybe slightly unfortunate, um, because I like spending money to other humans. Like I would prefer to pay a human being, to design a flyer versus pay for a canvas subscription that is like I would get in there for 15 minutes and plug and play and then have a flyer at the end. Like I would rather pay a person, but I have found canvas to be like a huge save on expense. And at the rate that media and visual visuals are being consumed, I don't think I could afford to pay a human being there, uh, you know, a graphic designer or, uh, a marketing specialist flyer person to do all of my flyers because I need like four or five per week. Um, I'm, I'm just curious, what are the spaces that you have found yourself able to find a really great bargain?
Yeah. So I think it's important to figure out like what skill sets you want to develop to support your business. So for instance, for me, we did a lot of media, so I was like, okay, it would be great if I learned how to edit. So I taught myself how to edit. I was YouTube university, like how to edit film and content for dance. Yeah.
I'm with you. I didn't do the YouTube though. I went the linda.com route, which you didn't actually have to pay for one of the best purchases of my life. Really, truly shout out lynda.com was not paid to say that, but I wouldn't take your money to advertise on this podcast because I believe in them so much, it helped me so much. Okay. So yes, that is, that's a great example.
No, but like now, like I, we can hire somebody to do that, but now I know how the aesthetic and I know how to communicate. So it's like learn these skills early on so that when you are at a point where you can hire somebody, we're not wasting time trying to like figure out how to communicate. I'm like, oh, okay. Like I, what are you editing on? And like, let's talk about like the feel for this. And here's a storyboard. And like, I think that when you develop these skills early on, like sometimes it's not necessarily about saving money, but time. And that those skill sets that you're dedicating your time on in the beginning. Cause you have to we'll save time and money because you're communicating better in the future.
and it's an investment. So it pays out in, even in other, in other areas, like there's not a room that you can be in today. That would be a bad room to know how to edit it. But there's no, no place that I show up. It is my knowledge of editing software hurt me because there's always a good thing to have solid skills in, in, in, uh, a myriad of disciplines. Okay. Um, I am loving this. This is great. Okay. I want to talk a little bit about solving problems instead of creating problems with money. And that, I mean, it's very hard for me to not hear biggie smalls happening in my head right now, but more money, more problems does seem to be kind of a thing. Are there any guiding principles that you have or kind of general rules where that becomes simpler for you? Like how do you, yeah. Do you have like a contract with yourself? That's like, if ever I can solve a problem myself, I will. Or is it if ever I can pay someone else to handle something for me? I will. I just, I'm just so curious about that line. That's like, where is there the most value? Is it in me doing myself or is it in someone else doing it?
Yeah. I love them more money, more problems. I feel like it's more money, different problems. Like sometimes I prefer to have the problems that I had when I first started. Cause it's like, you're excited and it's new. And like you have that like youthful energy where you don't know what to expect. So it's like different. Um, I think the contract is, is it worth giving up your time to do it? So like let's just use the editing example. Like is the time expense worth you doing that or focusing on like bigger things that you might need to focus on. If it is, if it's worth the time, then do it. And if it's not, then I'm going to be like, okay, this is worth me spending the money to do this thing. Um, I think it also is like value. So like if you know that you only, you are going to edit that correctly, like the way you want it done, then you should be taking the time to do it. Whereas if you're like, I can explain this well, and I think communicate this well enough to give it to somebody else. And it will be done to the equal amount that you're doing. Then you give it to someone else. I had a designer recently, wonderful designer, like absolutely wonderful, but like they just weren't getting like the, the branding, like they weren't telling it through the lens of one of my organizations that I wanted it to.
And so I was like, okay, I'm going to design this on my own and be able to get the finished product that I want, even though I know it's going to take my time right now paying somebody because I can't communicate this properly to the designer. It's not a benefit to my organization. So they just needed to evaluate like, can somebody else do this? And if not, then, you know, you have to give up your time to be able to do this, which is why it's important to develop all these different skill sets specifically in arts creation and marketing and branding that are going to allow you to jump in if it's not a fit with a designer or if it's not a fit with an editor or so on and so forth,
That's super helpful. And also reminding me that time is a finite resource in the sense that I will drop dead someday. And the time that I spent was the time that I spent, however time can be multiplied kind of technically via delegating. And so keeping for yourself the, the, the time dollars that only I can spend my voice, my taste, my specific skillset. And then maybe looking to those other tasks that don't immediately depend on those things to like kind of accordion the time by delegating to other people. I just made up that according to time, but like, yeah, there's this much, but we can make it this much by adding many peoples. Okay. Um, I love that. Thank you for that. Also, uh, something that you said kind of struck me, and this is a good segue before we met my money model. Like the way that I thought about money was that you had to work hard and pretend like you're broke, like work hard and don't spend any money was sort of my, uh, my play. Like that was the play that I was really good at. And then you introduced me to this whole, other half of the playbook that was like, ask for it, just ask for it and then receive it. And I'm like, wait, what? You can just ask for money and then have it. So let's talk fundraising because until I met you, it was, uh, like a bad effort.
Like I, I use the other F word way more than I used this F-word. So I would love for you to enlighten our listeners the same way that you have a lighten enlightened me and really release this tremendous pressure off the F-word and genuinely you guys, um, I'm not like I love a pun and I do think it's cute to say, Jerry puts the fun in fundraising, but I kid you not. I have fun when I'm talking to people about this stuff. And, and so far I have been quite successful in my few fundraising efforts because of these tools. So please Jerry, take the floor, put the fun in fundraising. Let's go.
Yeah. So I love fundraising. I also happened to be a certified fundraising professional, so I had to make it fun.
So you're telling me it's not an accident that you are good at this.
I don't know. Not just, not just the new DNA Maybe who knows, like, I'm so curious. I'm like, what am I doing here anyway? Um, yeah, so I think that as artists, like this whole concept of a starving artist is something that like I lived in New York for 10 years that I like lived by. I was like, I'm always grown up. Like I don't have access. Like that's okay because I'm an artist and I'm telling my stories, but like at a certain point in order for us to create impact in the society that we're in, we need access to money. Like if we're going to hire and pay people equitably, we need access to money. And it's a huge component that I think sometimes when we're creating art, we get lost in. And so I'm like three of my top fundraising tips to help with this and like putting the fun in. So first before you raise any amount of money, you need to form some sort of entity.
Um, typically folks will see like either a 5 0 1 C3, which is a nonprofit, um, or they'll see like some sort of fiscal sponsorship, which essentially is somebody I'm working with another organization who is a nonprofit and using their nonprofit status to raise money for their non organization or entity. Um, while they're kind of deciding whether they want to develop nonprofit status or, you know, as a pathway to raising money through a nonprofit, something that I feel like artists don't really talk about is, um, like venture capital and investors as a corporation, like the storytelling and art we create, especially with advertising dollars and, um, you know, media sales, like there is access there for you to tell stories, um, and it makes money and it helps bring in jobs and you do it in an equitable and inclusive way. So I currently run three escorts benefit corpse. And the way that I explain it as core essentially is a for-profit nonprofit. So the point of all businesses is to bring in money. Like, that's it, but there's an escort benefit Corp. You can also have more altruistic purposes. So, you know, number one, create that entity decide kind of where you want to go. Like, what kind of organization do you want to run? And then we go to number two, which is my favorite one.
Is this ask for money part,
No, this is my why.
This is the Y Oh my gosh, Geri. And the why workshop let's go. I probably don't have time for the whole workshop, but give us the Twitter version,
Just like the Twitter version. Okay. So your, why is like the reason that you're doing this work, like the need to do everything you can to make the world a better place specifically like in the entertainment industry or whatever you're in. Like, that's your why it's like, why are you the person to, to create this organization and why are you the only one to do it? And the way that you're doing it, and it's like your heart, your heart story, your heart reasoning behind everything, the beating pulse behind why you are starting your entity. And that's what you'll use when you're in these meetings.
Is that, is that kind of like your introduction that you gave at the top of this call? Was that a little bit of your why?
Yeah. That's definitely a little bit of my, why it's like your, your, your reasoning for doing what you're doing from the heart. Like not the thing that,
Yeah, yeah. Not the mission statement, not what goes on the website, but like when you talk to a human being with human words, then that's what you tell them. I love this. And you have to come back to that. Why every step of the way, or maybe not every step of the way, but especially every challenging step of the way. Yeah. I think you're right though. Every step is smart.
Yeah. Cause that keeps you on track, right? Like when you start getting, um, teased or enticed with other reasons to do things, then yeah. The, the organization can become something you did not intend for it to become. And if you have a vision, you need a why, which is becomes not only your fuel, but the roadmap also keeps you going straight, like creating the thing that you said you were going to create. Although sometimes let's be real. We don't always wind up with the business that we thought we were making. But, um, as long as we wind up with a business that is in alignment with that vision, then I think it's, I think it's golden strong line.
I love it totally strongly. I think that most of the time we don't end up with the business that we think we're going to create. And that's okay. Because as long as it's serving the purpose of your why, then you're still meeting your ultimate goal. Even if it wasn't what you thought of originally. So I just think the why is so important. And then when you are actually asking for money, um, which is part of this, why part? So it's like 2.5. Um, you have something to share with people that's genuine and it's not like I'm trying to sell you a used car. Cause I feel like a lot of people feel like fundraising is that. But when you're like, this is my heart story, this is my why. And this is why you should come in on this because I'm the only person to do it in this way. And you can trust because of my, my beliefs and my vision that it will get done. So come join me, come join this change. That's exciting, you know?
Yes, this is something I talk about when I teach audition workshops. I think it's unfortunate that so many people have had bad experiences with salespeople because I think a lot of us have it, this distaste, this like, you know, kind of icky feeling about promoting ourselves or pitching ourselves or like trying to sell something when that thing is our talent, right? Because we've all experienced somebody trying to push something on us. But what I love to remind people is that at least I hope we've all experienced a helpful sales person who knows the features of the product who understands the market and the competitors. And can tell you honestly, if some other thing is good, it would be better for you. Like I love that sales person who's informative, inspired will like, let me take a test drive, give me the real information. And when you have a solid, why that's what you are, you get to tell people exactly who you are, what you're about, what you're, you know, pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is and say like, do you want in on that, on that pot of gold? Like, is that something that you are also into? If yes. Great. If not totally cool. Totally cool. It like gets rid of all of the desperation, all of the like, please, sir, may have some, all which let's be real can can't can work, right? Like can work. But I think when empowerment is such a huge part of what you are looking to instill in the community, that's certainly not how you want to approach the fundraising phase of your project. So I, this all makes total sense to me and I'm loving it. Yes. So, that was two and 2.5.
Yeah. Right. It's not necessary to be like that. It's just to be like, Hey, like beat it. Doesn't have to be so aggressive. It's just like, Hey, like I believe in these things, I think you believe in them too, are you on board? Like, is it something you can do? And then I always say like, if they say no, it'd be like, well, can you introduce me to someone who you think might be aligned with this? Because those are just like doors that can be open to other pathways that are more aligned with your vision or more able to participate financially. Um, they're not, they're not like I feel like we need to get better at rejection and seeing them as opportunities instead of like, you're a failure. I think, you know, it's not bad. It's just like not the right fit for that person at this time.
I love it. That you brought that up, this idea of rejection, because if there's anything a dancer knows, well, it's rejection. And I think unfortunately instead of processing rejection, I think most of us just callous up to it. So we like avoid it and just say like, you know, we'll deal with it. And by reacting in a, in a certain way or dealing it, dealing with it by not dealing with it. Um, and I think that once we become people who can feel rejected and know that we'll survive, then we can be a person who like, can get through the feeling that, that phase a little more quickly, the door slam doesn't like you don't stand there and feel that sting for six months to a year. You just go like, boom. Oh, naturally. Okay. Of course not everyone is going to be a good fit. Um, how about that door over there? I'll try that one. Like the processing, the feeling and moving more quickly through that is, is something that I think dancers could be dead. Well, I, I don't wanna say dancers, but creative people. It's something I think creative people could be really, really good at if we used our professional skills in the real world, then I think like, wow, we're such a resilient group. We would make.
I think so. I mean, I know. So because I've been working with some great dancers, choreographers creatives, and they do make great fundraisers. I also think like seeing rejection as the opportunity for as an opportunity instead of a negative thing, because like, I have always learned more from when I don't get it right. Then when I do get it right. And part of that rejection could be, well, maybe I need to work on my why. Like how can I improve that? So that next time, you know, I can get better at it. Or if people are willing to give you feedback as to why they're not interested in fundraising, um, donating to your fundraiser or investing at this time, that also helps you because you're like, okay, I can be more specifically informationYeah. Yeah, yeah. And I know you don't get that in the audition room as much, but hear you yeah.
Yeah. Less, less, less. So for sure the feedback is, uh, uh, it's just not customary cultural. It's just not a part of the culture. You just don't get it and you don't find out why most of the time, some of the time you do and that's fine data. I love data. Um, my sister recently applied for a grant, a big one, and she was really prepared to receive it. She had planned in her mind how she would celebrate. She was talking about it to her friends. She wasn't keeping it a secret. Her colleagues knew the family knew this was something she was very excited about and was hoping for and preparing for by, you know, being it by being like, yep, I've got this thing. This is it's going to happen. And it didn't happen. And she got to mourn that and grieve that. And she decided one of the actions she would take to help supporting herself in the future is to create a, basically a, like an inverse resume.
Instead of putting all the jobs that you've booked on a resume she's she has started a document of all the gigs that she has not booked all of the grants. She has not won all of the, you know, projects she's not been on board for. And even just like honoring them in that way, giving them the bullet, giving them the date, giving them, you know, that was the thing that happened for me. And that was a thing that, you know, whether it was, if you believe in the meant to bees, if you believe it was not meant to be fine, but I'm of the mindset. And I think I got this from dance, sorry, I'm bouncing all over the place. But I believe in myself, there is a certain amount of whack moves. They will, there is bad dancing in there and unless I let it out, it will come out at a very inopportune time.
So in my freestyle, I absolutely celebrate the rounds that are not my greatest. Cause I think it all has to come out and similarly you, you, you, you, as a human will not win every prize. You will not book every gig. You will not receive every grant. Every sponsorship, not every person you ask for money will say yes. So how do you find a system that works for you that helps empower you forward versus drag you down? Because if anybody knows that it's you, this, this work organizing in general, specifically social justice and, and like cultural reform that takes time and it can be heavy. And so, um, I'm all for the techniques and tricks and tools and thoughts that help us endure and help us, uh, kind of lighten the load in any way. Um, so that's cool. How is that for leaving you on the edge of your seat? Everyone that was waiting for step number three twenty-five minutes later, this suspense is killing you. What is it? Geri,
Step number three, step number three. Okay. So get a physical and digital support team. So a lawyer, 10 accountants. Yes. Um, follow. When I say about, uh, digital support team, I'm saying follow folks on social media, specifically Twitter, that is such a great place for fundraisers and for nonprofit fundraising for venture capitalists. Um,
I needed to hear this today. I haven't been on Twitter and I can't remember when.
Yeah, I'd never posts like myself, but I am on every single day, like reading and learning and like books and resources and slide decks and all the things. And, um, it's free advice from some of the greatest folks in the industry of raising money and specifically from folks that are from traditionally or historically marginalized groups in their field. I think that's so crucial because folks that don't usually fit into the box of what a venture capitalist looks like or what a fundraiser looks like, um, or a marketer or, you know, a TV producer or whatever that may be. It's really cool to see that their pathway and how they like hacked the system or like found their own ways to do things and a world that was not necessarily curated for people like them. And so I got some people to shout out. Can I shout out?
Yes, please. Yes, yes, yes. Do it. All of them
Okay. Okay. So, um, Matt Conwell at Mac, the VC dot E T H great venture capitalists, like just so many, um, wonderful ideas on how to raise money specifically for, um, like underserved communities. Like just awesome. He's in Baltimore. Super cool. Um,
I'm going to link to, I will link to all of these in the show notes. So yes, listeners, you can go grab your pen and paper or just check the link. I will hyperlink to all of these counts. This is great.
Oh, cool. Awesome. Um, uh, Gail Wilkinson at Gale force VC, a venture capitalist that is focused, that is a woman identifies as a woman and in that field of raising money, like she's from a marginalized group. Um, and so awesome. Um, Franklin, uh, Lynn Leonardo, um, I it's so weird cause when things are on digital, you're like I called her Miami hormone, like when I was reading the books because not hearing people's voices for sure. And I'm also dyslexic, so shout out to, um, neuro horrible folks. So I definitely always do that. I'm like, is this how you am pleased? And they're like, I don't know, because they're not talking to me anyway. Um, so Franklin, uh, the black list, like super cool, um, Beyonce marketing, I'm just going to say names, Arlan Hamilton. Um, and I also have to shout out my brilliant mentor, Karen Spencer at Karen Spencer.
She's had like the most careers of anybody that I know she's jumped all over for so many things. She like worked as the assistant to Ashton Kutcher and then like worked at target and all these different places in marketing and media. And, um, I am, she's attached to my new media company. Um, a lot of well with my friend, Nick and I she's just so inspiring because I, I also like want folks to know about like failure or rejection. I keep saying this as a gift and like, it's going to open up a new chapters of your life to new and exciting things and fundraising like that, as well as like, okay, I was trying to fundraise for this, but like, I'm realizing that the need is this. So like let's reorganize and let's create pitch decks for this. And um, but back to number three, like it's so crucial to be able to follow folks and learn from them. There are so many reasons resources available to you. Give it a Goog follow people on Twitter that are specifically from traditionally or historically marginalized groups.
Yes, Geri,, thank you. And I love give it a Goog. We're going to hashtag this episode with give it a gig. Um, okay. I think this, like those, those three helpful tips are like kind of the nuts and bolts of where people can start, but I would love to now kind of reach into why do all that? Like, what is the impact and what is the need for this work? And I think we are standing in a moment in dance world history and I speak dance world, um, broadly. But also I know my limits. I'm not about to talk about things. I don't know. I'm not like global dance captain of the world, but in America right now, specifically in the convention industry, there are a lot of, um, a lot of things going on in terms of safety conduct and culture. And I think that if it's cool with you right now, I'd love to talk about DWCA what you guys are doing and how that is an example for like the need for organizations like yours, um, and the need for them to have funding so that they can be doing the work that is the essential work like that is so necessary and, and so timely, so appropriate to our, to our world right now.
So I think that's a great move in. Like once you raise this money, what do you do with it? And how do you create the most profound impact? The only reason why I fundraise is to create change, to make our world a better place. I did that. Like I F J LMNO P test, I don't know what it's actually called, but that's what I call it. And I got the advocate where the 16 personalities test and it's like, yeah, my sole purpose. I feel like so true. It was like to, to help. Like, I really just want to help in any way that I can. And so, uh, I launched dance education, equity association. That's one of my escort benefit corpse, which you now all know what that is. And, um, basically after the murder of George void, um, in 2020, we, the dance industry in America specifically. And I think honestly all over the world was kind of like there's racism in, in dance and performing arts
And everywhere. Yeah. But, like from the lens of this industry specifically like, oh wait, like people have been experiencing these things. Uh, and also at the same time, like folks started reporting about the sexual abuse that they experienced from dance and dance spaces and dance educational spaces. And I wanted to understand through data like why this was happening and where this was happening and what the statistics were in the dance community. And so my organization took 70 of the top dance conventions and competitions, and we evaluated them through their social media and online presence to understand like where they're coming from. And like, how does this all paint a picture for the current state of dance education? Now this is competition and dimensions in America specifically. So I just want to say that. And so what we found is that like overall dance education is not safe, equitable, and inclusive for all. And we found this out because of the harm that was being reported. Um, the lack of ability to have a third-party entity that could, um, take in the reports of harm. Like there was no reporting of any kind that we could find for any organization we evaluated. And it's not because organizations are, uh, trying to cause harm. It's just like, things have changed so much and our standards have not changed with the times.
Yeah. But also like where are they going to learn that? Like, I think it's hard to hold organizations to a standard that they aren't even aware of, or they don't even know about because they're not getting reports about it. Right. It's not their business technically.
No. And nobody's coming to them and saying, I'm experiencing this. Like, there's very, there are, I shouldn't say nobody. There are people that are going to organizations and saying, I'm experiencing this. Please help. But like with, if there are no tools for people to learn where to like how to create change, they're just like, they don't have things established. And we believe that organizations specifically competitions, conventions, like they want to do better. They way want to provide spaces that are safe for kids. Otherwise, why would they be doing this work? They just don't quite know how yet. And so we were like, okay, let's create these trainings. Then we created trainings on how to build anti-racist anti other anti abusive educational dance spaces. And then we just launched this tip line, which is amazing where folks can report abuse of any kind to a third party, which is us.
And it's actually run not by me, but by Brianna Davis, who is our director of mental health, who is a licensed mental health counselor. So associate, I get really passionate when talking about this because we're doing action to create change. And also a social worker that we're working with, uh, Jodi Maples. And it's really powerful to be able to see that we can create the change in our community and we can train people. And we're working with some fantastic organizations that are really focused on like, okay, I did not know, but now I know what I do not know. How can we hold ourselves accountable as an organization and as individuals within the organization. I also just want to make a statement too, just about social media. And I think what we're seeing right now are folks that are dealing with trauma and secondhand trauma.
And it's a lot. And like how people that have experienced abuse in these spaces are amplifying the voices of others. I think it's very nuanced and very complicated and survivors are just for the first time feeling like they have a voice in this space. And so I think that folks are, are, are acting in any way they can to say, Hey, like I've experienced this for a long time and you're just not listening to me. So I want to just help in any way I can. And yes, I'm doing the best that I can because I'm a survivor too, and I'm trying to help other survivors. And I know that things need to change. And I see that we're going to make things different and I want to be a part of it because you're finally listening to me and I want to help propel things forward.
Like I feel like with the social media conversations, like we're missing the fact that a lot of these people that are posting are survivors themselves and are just like finally being heard after some of them decades, decades of keeping this quiet and enduring, you know, conversations and relationships with folks that abused them when they were kids. And I'm not just talking about the sexual abuse, but also the emotional and physical abuse that occurs. So I think it's really nuanced. And I, we try to, we always say, do the Lea is Switzerland DWI, Switzerland. Um, because, because like when you're dealing with survivors and you're trying to support survivors, like there's so much that that comes into that and, and what might come off as like harmful. Like we also have to like take that person for who they are and say, oh, you're a survivor. And this is also way how you're dealing with your trauma. Like, I just want to have more compassion overall. Like I just, I just want more compassion and understanding and empathy from everybody because we're all suffering and going through our own issues every single day, nobody knows about. And if we, as artists, can't be empathetic, who can be,
This is a great question. I'm hoping some venture capitalists. I mean, let's, let's just, let's talk about what we know. Sorry, was that D was that not here for that?
I'm here for that. Here is what we know survivors need to be heard, and truth needs to be illuminated and people should be held accountable for their actions. I think that that's, I don't know, people should be held accountable to their actions is definitely like the way that I think about it. I think there is an alternative world where everybody has no consequence ever, but the way I see it, truth needs to be illuminated. Survivors need to be heard and people need to own their actions and answer to the consequences, both sides of the accusation. The way that I see it specifically on this subject need help. And I don't think that either party gets it when there's bullying involved name, calling involved, slander, um, this like, you know, really quick throw everything up on Instagram, which is historically not a great place for discourse. It's like, it's not even like design wise. It's not even built for discussion. It's, it's not a place to have conversations. It has certainly become a place to introduce ideas and topics and hot button issues. But man, it is for me anyways, really challenging to watch conversations, try to happen there because I don't think it's the best place for them. Um, I don't know where I was going with that, but
No, but I, I love that. I think you bring up such a great point there, but I also feel like there aren't avenues for other, for people to, if you don't want to go to a reporter about the abuse, there, aren't other avenues for you to share your story. Like I hear you and like, what are these other avenues for folks to be able to share their stories when they feel like they've been silenced for, like I said, some of these folks decades. And I also agree with the fact that like, we need to provide healing and support for the folks that caused harm as well as healing and support for the folks that have been harmed. I think that is necessary. That does not mean that we don't hold folk have folks hold themselves accountable. But because of the way that the justice system is, it's not made for survivors.
So if survivors even were to report the abuse, like it's a whole process, we don't know that this will essentially get this person who's been accused of abuse off the street. So like, if these folks are going to keep teaching, how are we going to protect students and folks of which they have power over? How are we going to do that without providing healing and support and accountability through compassion and all of these things like we have to like, what happens when all these newspaper articles come out? Where are the state of the industry? I do not think we burned down the entire dance convention, competition industry
And tell you what you would, you would practically have to, if everyone who's ever said or looked or done anything wrong, if we all cast them away to a desert island, we wouldn't
Yeah. Our estimate is 80 to 90% of folks in dance have either caused harm due to abuse of some sort, or has been a person who experienced it. So yeah. Yes. But like, that's why we really preach this. Like, okay. So what, now all these folks are out. What are we doing to repair the harm? Pause without causing more harm?
Yes. Let's go. What's the plan. How can I help? How can we help?
Yeah. So come visit us at DWA. Let's do the work, like Imagine dance, education. Let's do it.
Geri. I'm here for it. I'm here with it. I'm with you. Thank you so much for being here with us today. I am so grateful for all your wisdom, all your enthusiasm and for your sing songs. Um, I think your perspective on this and your attitude towards doing the work and, uh, being, being progress focused without ignoring the problems. Um, but without focusing so much on the problems that there's no hope like that's a, that's a, that's a problem unto itself. Um, so thank you for all of it. I'm so glad you could be here today.
Thank you for having me. This was great. Thank you.
My pleasure. I'll talk to you soon. My friend.
All right. That is Geri Brown, my friends, and that is a boatload of information and inspiration. I hope you took as much out of that episode as I did. Um, Geri;s enthusiasm. Her energy is truly contagious and I feel compelled. Um, I feel inspired to get out there into the world, into my community and start making big change. Um, I'm thrilled to hear what you think about this episode. Please send us some feedback. If you haven't already, if you haven't already please subscribe and leave a review on Spotify, which you now can review things on Spotify podcasts that is, um, leave us a review on Spotify or apple or wherever you're listening. Drop us a message or DM at words that move me on Instagram. I am Dana Daners as always. It is a pleasure. My friend, I look forward to talking to you next time until then keep it funky. See ya.
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