Inside the Incubator: Womanly Magazine

Brooklyn Arts Council’s Arts+ Innovation Incubator is a fiscal sponsorship program for individual artists and emerging organizations. The Incubator supports new artistic projects and ideas by enabling artists and groups to raise funds for nonprofit activities through tax-deductible, charitable contributions. Through the Arts+ Innovation Incubator, Brooklyn artists and arts organizations can take advantage of our online fundraising platform, receive advice and coaching on project management and development, and more.

Today we’re spotlighting Womanly Magazine, a health and art publication that successfully raised $18,000 in 2018 as a BAC fiscal sponsee! Womanly aims to lift up narratives often omitted in women’s magazines, highlighting discrimination in the health care system, inter-generational concerns, and issues of physical and sexual health expression. We asked founder and editor-in-chief Attia Taylor about the magazine and her experience with BAC’s Arts+ Innovation Incubator.

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Dementia & Alzheimer’s, illustration by Maia Boakye from Womanly Magazine Issue No. 3

What sparked the idea for Womanly? How did you decide to combine art and health in one publication?

Growing up, I noticed major cultural barriers and information gaps that prevented important discussions about very common health concerns in my family and community. Womanly Magazine was born out of a need to see the health experiences of women who look like me reflected in accessible media. We created this magazine to fill the information gaps that we often see in our communities due to stigma, shame, inequality, and miseducation. As an artist, it felt natural for me to look to other creatives to build a publication that could reach people through art – whether that be through film, music, literary, or visual art. It’s a bit like hiding the medicine in the food.

Why did you decide to find a fiscal sponsor, and how did you land on BAC?

We knew right away that we wanted to be a mission driven organization and would need to find a fiscal sponsor to help us grow and become what we wanted to become. A member of our team knew Brooklyn Arts Council to be a great and established resource and encouraged us to apply. We’re based in Brooklyn and really wanted to align ourselves with an organization that not only has a legacy of uplifting the Brooklyn community, but one that also helps small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive.

How would you describe the benefits of a fiscal sponsorship, to artists or groups unfamiliar with the structure?

BAC’s fiscal sponsorship of Womanly Magazine has provided us with an indispensable backbone as we have grown from a very small collaboration to a developed organization. Foremost, our fiscal sponsorship has allowed us to apply for grants and other funding under BAC’s tax ID number. This means that during the duration of the fiscal sponsorship, we qualify for grants and programs normally reserved for nonprofits and 501(c)(3) organizations.

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Image: Erica Garner photographed by Nancy Musinguzi for Womanly Magazine Issue No. 2

The most tangible internal benefit has been the administrative infrastructure and support. Having a managed bank account, streamlined donation site, and guidance during grant applications eliminated many issues growing artists and organizations encounter. For example, we were able to raise $18,000 in 2018 all through small dollar donations through our BAC provided crowdfunding site, and BAC managed the delivery of tax exempt acknowledgment letters to every donor.

Your content is available both on your website and in a print magazine. Why is it important for your publication to be in print as opposed to only online?

We’re all about accessibility. Health information should never be hidden or hard to find. Our print distribution strategy is to place magazines in specific resource centers located in communities that can benefit the most from preventive health information. Our printed issues can easily be browsed in community health center waiting rooms or be a resource used in various small group sessions. We also recognize that not everyone has access to the internet or may not know how to navigate these types of resources, so print distribution is our best way of meeting people where they are. Aesthetically, while we are a health magazine, much of our content is visual art which is often experienced differently in print.

However, it’s equally important to us that anyone can access our content regardless of geography, so we are committed to growing our digital platform. We also want to make sure that the content from past issues remains accessible, so we maintain an archive of all prior issues on our website.

How do you find contributors and collaborators?

Womanly is entirely volunteer run and we currently have 35 individuals on our staff. Many of Womanly Magazine’s founding members are from my personal network but as we have grown, many people have reached out through our social media platforms and website. The outpouring of volunteer time, skills, and passion has been tremendous since we started, and we’re using that energy to fuel the work we do. We are always open to new collaborators and encourage anyone interested to reach out to us through the “Get Involved” page on our website. When it comes to contributors, we have multiple open submission periods throughout the year. Issue 4 is currently in production and a call for submissions will be announced on our social media sites and website shortly.

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I see you, photograph by Piero Percoco from Womanly Magazine Issue No. 3

What are some of your favorite articles or artworks that Womanly has published so far?

That is an incredibly difficult question to answer because the work we receive has been so beautiful and strong. I’m incredibly proud of our cover story on Erica Garner, written by Kandace Fuller and photographed by Mario Rubén Carrión, Redens Desrosiers, and Nancy Musinguzi. That moment felt big. I am really honored that we were able to launch our first print edition by commemorating a hero and a black woman who fought until the very end of her life. I feel like we were able to launch our magazine with the statement that black women and girls’ lives matter, which is a foundational belief that informs our mission and our content.

Each issue of the magazine has a central theme – you’ve explored sex ed, “matters of the heart” and “words from the wise.” Can you give us any hints about what’s coming next?

The next print issue will be out later in the spring but we’re kicking off some content and awareness campaigns about this issue in February. The theme will be Black Maternal Health. We came to the decision as a team late last year. The issue deserves so much attention—not just as a major public health crisis in our country but also as a loud and unwavering statement that WE ARE HERE and will not be ignored. Black motherhood is sacred and should be honored and celebrated, yet we see so little of that in our society.

As a team, we’re strategically aligning ourselves with organizations and individuals who are subject matter experts working tirelessly to elevate and alleviate this issue. We are dedicated to making sure our next issue captures both the joys and inequities of being a black mother in America.

 

Stay up to date with Womanly Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also find Womanly in print in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Oakland at select health centers.

To learn more about BAC’s Arts + Innovation Incubator, check out our website

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