Grantee Spotlight: Toni Blackman (The Cypher Workshop)

The September 20th deadline for our current cycle of Community Arts Grants is only one week away! Keep following our Grantee Spotlight series as we catch up with previous BAC grantees to learn more about the kind of work this funding can help support, and what these artists and organizations are up to now.

Photo of Toni against yellow wall

Credit: Jamel Love

Artist: Toni Blackman

Toni Blackman is a multidisciplinary artist and hip hop activist who uses workshops, collectives, podcasts, and performances to encourage others to share their own work. Her Cypher Workshop, a bi-weekly freestyle rap, encourages participants to open up and gain confidence in their creativity. Rhyme Like a Girl, a collective for established and aspiring female MCs, promotes positive images of women in hip hop. 

Why do you make art?

I’m most dedicated to music, but also dabble in theater, writing, dance, and poetry. I’ve always been an artist. I’m one of those creatives that would suffocate without art. It is not a choice for me. I must create art, so I have multi-disciplinary projects, collaborations, and endeavors that help me to breathe freely: inhale creativity, exhale creativity.

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

I partnered with a hot new venue for my granted public event, and the success of our event led to a long term relationship that has brought so much life to all of my work as an artist!

Kampala Hiphop Explosive poster from 2018

Blackman performed in the 2018 Kampala Hiphop Explosive with her group Rhyme Like A Girl

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

My biggest challenge has been time management as an under-resourced project. It’s hard to create quality work with little funding.

Which Brooklyn artists and organizations inspire you?

Dancer/scholar Aimee Meredith Cox inspires me, Ray Archie‘s artist business awareness work moves me, and Kristen, co-owner of Basquiat’s Bottle, is creating a tremendous platform on Fulton Street in Bed Stuy. It is so needed.

Which upcoming Brooklyn arts happenings are you excited about?

BRIC excites me and makes me happy to live in Brooklyn! I also love what Laci Chisholm is doing at Fit4Dance with many great options for the community to get their dance on, and her work with elders is beautiful!

Find Toni on her website.

Apply for one of our Community Arts Grants by September 20 to fund your individual, community, or organizational arts project in Brooklyn!

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