By: Saad Ahmed
The Coalition of Black and Racialized Artists is a Hamilton-based collective of artists of colour. COBRA serves as a creative outlet to racialized individuals and provides access to valuable tools and resources within each artist’s field, allowing them to showcase potential and grow their audience.
The group is comprised of around 40 members from diverse racial backgrounds who are engaged in numerous arts communities within the city, such as photographers, musicians, playwrights, visual artists and designers.
COBRA held their inaugural launch event on Feb. 9, showcasing live music, theatrical performances, vendors, art installations and other artistic offerings from a wide variety of creative Hamiltonians.
These artists have all contributed in different ways to today’s artistic scene in Hamilton; they are substantial components in the growth and popularity of Hamilton’s arts and culture, which is now a major selling point in drawing people to the city.
“One of our main goals is to create awareness for our talents. We hear some local entities talk about culture and diversity in the city, but they don’t really practice it,” said George Qua-Enoo, a photographer and active member of COBRA whose travel photography was on display at the event.
The coalition was formed around two years ago when a few artists began to discuss the barriers they faced as a racialized community. They realized the lack of opportunities available as minority artists in Hamilton, and quickly discovered they were facing the same issues regardless of art discipline. This led artists to add
ress the issue at hand and come together to form a collective voice to support one another.
“It has come to our attention that artists of colour are underrepresented, both at the grassroots and administrative levels; we seek to offer our perspective as the Hamilton Arts Community begins making strides towards a more complete understanding of the city’s under-served artistic scene,” COBRA stated.
“Our hope is that by starting this conversation, we can ensure that Hamilton’s rich and vibrant art scenes reflect all of the city’s communities as they continue to flourish and mature.”
COBRA hopes to inspire the current and next generation of black and racialized artists in Hamilton through their various forms of art. They are hopeful that more artists of colour in Hamilton connect with each other and reach out for opportunities to create a more tight-knit, resourceful community. They also hope to ease the discovery of racialized artists and create a platform for them to showcase their creativity on a large scale.
“Although it may appear obvious that non-white artists in the city are easily accessible, we often hear entities say they do not know where and how to find artists of colour in the city,” said Qua-Enoo.
“COBRA exists to create a platform for these entities to help and support artists of colour from any art discipline to navigate through these hurdles. We have the talent, and we have a lot to contribute to the city’s art landscape,”
He encourages any black and racialized artists in Hamilton to join COBRA. They meet once a month and encourage all members to be actively involved in their meetings to improve the landscape of opportunities for artists of colour in Hamilton.