by Jillian Holness
The network was started last spring by Amber Cullen, after she helped organize the “Until Name Becomes Prayer” project to help support Polynesian slam poet William Nu’utupu Giles.
Bringing Will’s story to Akron and supporting his work had a significant impact on local artists and helped VIBE to evolve as a network of like-minded artists. After the event, Amber and other local artists gathered at Summit Art Space and shared stories about their backgrounds, cultures and work.
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“I don’t remember who said it, but someone said, ‘I really like our vibe,’ and that’s when VIBE Collective was born,”’ Amber says.
This fall, VIBE has special events coming up that will allow them to personally interact with the community. Amber says VIBE will have a monthly artist workshop series starting in September for the public.
Today, VIBE includes an expansive group of artists and a creative core team of about 10-12 members.
One of the members is Neema Tamang, a theatre artist and immigrant from Nepal. Tamang came to the United States in 2013 and attended North High School. He is also involved with Gum-Dip Theatre and is the manager of Nepali Natak Ensemble.
Tamang calls VIBE an open place and says it’s a great way to connect with artists from all over the country. Tamang has noticed that the immigrant community in Akron is underrepresented in the performing arts sector.
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“The youth are struggling because of language barriers and they’re not getting connected much with artists,” Neema says. “I’m currently trying to bring the VIBE to immigrants.”
Besides being artists themselves, Amber describes members of VIBE Collective as teaching artists and cultural organizers.
“Akron is going to look to VIBE as being a leader in culture and art,” Amber says. “People will learn stories from the margins when those in the margins are centered.”
Jillian Holness is a recent graduate of Kent State University’s journalism program.
(photos courtesy of Amber Cullen)