Get to know an event company impacting the narrative of the Historic West End one celebration at a time.
Having a good time in the Historic West End is not an uncommon occurrence. Many West End residents are spending time with family members on the porch swapping stories. They are coordinating a game of cards with friends at a cookout. They are dancing beside neighbors at a house party. But, these are just a few examples of those ordinary moments of joy that happen in the Historic West End on a daily basis. However, ordinary moments of joy are not breaking news.
Tiffany Fant and Nakisa Glover are two community organizers with deep ties to the Historic West End. They are seeking to push ordinary moments of joy to the forefront of the Historic West End narrative. Fant explained, “We want to redefine the narrative on the Westside so people actually come out and enjoy themselves as they play here. The (current) narrative is that people are always shooting and it is not safe.” Glover adds, “We understand the crossroads that the Westside of Charlotte is at right now. We understand the rich history that is steeped into the Westside narrative.” She continued, “We want to create pathways to tell our own stories and create our own solutions so we will be a part of the Renaissance of the Westside and not just steamrolled over by gentrification.”
Mosaic Live Creates “Synergy through Celebration”
In June 2017, the two created one such pathway with the launched of their community-focused event company--Mosaic Live. Under the Mosaic Live banner Glover and Fant are creating events for the general public that allows attendees to experience moments of joy, celebration, and fun in order to change the public narrative about the Historic West End and West End residents. They like to call it “synergy through celebration.”
The first programming concept Fant and Glover launched under the Mosaic Live brand was Mosaic Live presents First Fridays. However, it is no surprise that a First Friday event would become the launching pad for their brand. First Friday is a concept that is part of an American social outing tradition. In the past, cities have been known to promote these monthly events to create a “safety in numbers” atmosphere in areas of town that are perceived as dangerous. These monthly First Friday, First Saturday, or Third Thursday events provide attendees with a new perspective about an area that combats the “dangerous side of town” narrative. “We really wanted to do events and we had access to hosting events in West Charlotte. We really looked at the concept of First Friday,” said Glover. Fant added, “With the First Fridays concept we wanted to say ‘Hey, come to the Westside. Enjoy where you live. Let’s show and prove that we (the Westside) can have quality events as well.’”
Last year, from June to August, Glover and Fant hosted Mosaic Live presents First Fridays at the Five Points Plaza pocket park on West Trade Street. “We branded it as a summer series. We hosted outdoor events where we had live music, DJs, food, and vendors. We were building community by doing community. We were creating opportunities where people could meet their neighbors,” said Fant. “It was also a place to discuss some of the issues and the transitions happening on the Westside.”
As the summer weather transitioned into a fall chill, the Mosaic Live crew transitioned to collaborative programming. They worked with several community organizations to host a praise day party and film screening. Then, at the top of 2018, Mosaic Live presents First Fridays transitioned indoors to Mama Caribbean Bar & Grill on the East side of town. “When it started to get cold and we had less lighting [due to daylight savings time] the park no longer fit the need. So, we moved it to Mama Caribbean because we had that relationship,” explained Fant. However, no matter where a Mosaic Live event is hosted, it still has that Westside Charlotte aesthetic. Glover explained, “With us growing up on the Westside and having deep roots here, the way we move and the way that we do our work is definitely influenced by our upbringing.” She continued, “With us having this Westside lens we have a strong focus on wanting to see growth, sustainability, and the honoring of the legacy of what the Westside of Charlotte represents.”
The Official Blackest Weekend Ever
This West Charlotte lens would inform Fant and Glover in the coordination of a multi-day event that would bring the Mosaic Live brand a lot of media attention. The Official Blackest Weekend Ever received coverage in the Charlotte Observer, The Charlotte Post, The News & Observer, WBTV, and other media outlets. The multi-day event was an elaborate celebration of the release of the box office hit film Black Panther. From February 16-18, The Official Blackest Weekend Ever amplified the celebration of #BlackJoy at various venues around the city. The event garnered a reach of 500,000 on social media and pulled in attendees from as far as Georgia, South Carolina, and other North Carolina cities. The two saw this event as a means to leverage national events and national trends in order to make a meaningful impact on a local level. Glover explained, “We both knew people here locally who were in the comic book industry. So, we wanted to find a way to celebrate and honor them. As a result we created The Official Blackest Weekend Ever.”
Image from event promo video captured by Ali Steel.
Mosaic Live Gets “More Bigger, More Better”
Mosaic Live is now reaching its one year anniversary. It is now heading back into its First Fridays Summer Series season. Now with funding from the Knight Foundation for marketing efforts, Glover and Fant have plans to extend and expand their “synergy through celebration” community building approach. Fant said that Mosaic Live events are going to be “more bigger, more better” this year. They are moving programming from the pocket park to the Mosaic Village promenade in order to work with more community organizations and local artists. Fant said the events will now provide more comprehensive community engagement. They are looking into hosting movie nights, community mural creation, paint & sip experiences, and more.
For Fant and Glover, more comprehensive community engagement is going to involve pulling in more partners. “It will be more partnerships, more entertainment, more fun, and more impact,” said Fant. “It is not just going to be Nakisa and me. We are really trying to push joining forces with neighborhoods and other partners to help shape what we know about the westside.”
The next Mosaic Live presents First Fridays will be held on Friday, June 1. They are looking forward to having the community come out and celebrate Black Music Month. Click the button below for information about all the upcoming First Fridays Summer Series events.