By Nyesha Stone
The power of two black minds can change a community. Bridget Robinson and Symphony Swan created a way for creatives to connect and expand as businesses–they are the creators of BlankSpace MKE.
BlankSpace MKE was a physical space about five or six years ago. The space was for talented people to gather, share ideas and work on their craft. Now, BlankSpace MKE is a virtual platform for creatives. They have a website and Facebook page, but hope to have another physical space one day. Swan says she’s too scared to be put a date on it because she likes to go with the flow.
Robinson, Swan and other artists shared the bills when BlankSpace MKE was a physical space, which created a “collective economics.” When two people, a family or even an entire community put their money into one idea, that idea can flourish and create other opportunities.
And this is why Robinson and Swan created “MKE Black Restaurant Week.” They used their “collective economics” and introduced it into the community, the black community.
“The work speaks for itself,” Swan said.
Each year they create a list of black restaurants to visit in Milwaukee for seven days. Because of this week, there has been an 100 percent increase in profits for the restaurants visited during that week. The owners are then able to put that money back into their restaurant. Sometimes they hire more staff or they may update their building.
“We kind of brag on their success,” Robinson said. “We were a part of that.”
Robinson and Swan specifically went with a restaurant week because “food is art and its universal,” said Swan.
This week gives not only the community members a time to engage, but, also the restaurants. During this week, restaurant owners visit other restaurants where they share food, ideas, and a good time.
“I’ve appreciated being able to support folks do what they enjoy,” Robinson said. “That’s been really fulfilling to me.”
Now, how did these two masterminds meet? Well, they met through a mutual sorority sister. Their friendship has been around so long, it took them a while to remember how they met.
Who would have known their friendship would bring money back into Milwaukee’s black community?
These women don’t just stop at restaurants. Last year, they held a “Milwaukee Black Arts Week,” because never forget, it’s all about the creatives when it comes to these two. Swan wanted to “increase the awareness that you pay for art.”
A visual artist and a writer showing Milwaukee how important art is and what it can do for a community; Robinson and Swan are inspiring many.