Many creatives are plagued with finding sustainable resources to build their craft - from the cost of living, to collaboration, to finding opportunities to lead. Brittanie saw a need in the creative collegiate community and fulfilled it with her passion to provide space for creatives to learn, build, and collaborate. As a musician, Brittanie combined her foundational creative palette with her robust educational background to nurture what college creatives need the most: space, time, and mentorship.
Meet BCI Member, Brittanie Tea (@creativesoncampus)
Brittanie Thomas, affectionately known as Brittanie Tea, is a scholar, creative practitioner, creative advocate, writer, and professional recording artist. She is the founder and CEO of Happily Better After, LLC and founder of Creatives on Campus, a community program of 501C3, The Better Give Back Foundation Inc. The mission of Creatives on Campus is to mobilize adult-learners and creatives through scholarship, advocacy, and space to co-live, co-learn, and co-lead. Brittanie and co-sponsor, Erie Amore, developed “Lost in the City with Creatives on Campus” for creatives in need of emergency housing and co-creative space.
What inspired you to champion the Creatives on Campus program?
With my experience in education as a student and administrator, I started to see first-hand the challenge of space for housing, content, and space to retreat - to get off campus and reset in a space that reflects the vibrancy of what was being created. The co-living piece is really what inspired that. Creative makers, brand leaders, and students would be able to come into these spaces and literally get lost in a good way. That inspired us to reach out and collaborate with Airbnb owners who were willing to create these spaces for learners.
There's something that happens when you give space to creatives at the same level of enthusiasm and intention as whatever you're doing scholastically...
There's something that happens when you give space to creatives at the same level of enthusiasm and intention as whatever you're doing scholastically, and that space hasn't really been dialed in to within higher education. We're bringing them both to the table equally and to see where those cross connections take us.
With the challenges that many creatives faced during the pandemic, what shifts have you made that can encourage creatives or organizational leaders?
One of the things I heard about a year ago is that where there’s a burden, there's also room. The burden for me was the college creative who may not be an arts major but may have something burning that they want to get out. The pandemic allowed me to think about that initial burden, all while not being able to move this program in the way I originally planned. We still found room in the digital space and even in person. We featured creatives on our social media page to keep them encouraged during this time.
The spirit of the creative is to be solution-oriented and for their creativity to be a solution.
The spirit of the creative is to be solution-oriented and for their creativity to be a solution. That's a big part of why God has given us our gifts - to use them for his glory and and to be a solution in this earth. Renew your mind as often as you need to so you can keep in perspective the true value and strength God has given you.
What types of artists have benefited from Creatives on Campus as a resource?
Shaniyla Johnson was introduced to the program in 2019 as a Rutgers University student based in Camden. At the time, she was the youngest in the cohort, and felt a little like she didn't belong with the seemingly more seasoned creatives. That initial year gave her space and opportunity to receive mentorship with the fellow cohort leaders. Shaniyla quickly became our program ambassador and was intentional about connections made in the program.
Niamoni Burrell is a poet and author who was introduced to our space; she showed me hundreds of poems she had in her phone that she wanted to publish. Niamoni came to the program every single day and participated in different events, supporting other members. She walked away with her own published book and it really skyrocketed her esteem (Dear Me: Poems that Reach for the Hope Within). As an individual with autism, her loved ones saw her light up and progress in a new way.
Thank you, Brittanie, for sharing with BCI!
You can hear more about Brittanie's efforts for creative scholars by subscribing to the Podcast: It's a Different World with Creatives on Campus. This podcast interviews black millennial scholars who are navigating their own creative spaces. If you or someone you know is interested in joining Creatives on Campus, applications for the Spring 2022 Program are now open: Creatives on Campus Fellowship Application.
Editor: Nia Stringfellow
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