This is the new Mecca!
The Creative Collective NYC (CCNYC) just wrapped up a successful two-day weekend of CultureCon NYC and it was absolutely game-changing. As the premiere conference for Black and Brown creatives, CultureCon has captured the market on young emerging talent and created an annual professional conference that’s creating pathways and infinite opportunities. Presented by Max, the two day conference featured a range of notable influencers, industry change-makers and celebrities, all focused on pouring into this community of next generation trailblazers.
Day 1 kicked off with thousands trekking to the conference despite the rainy New York City weather. As they poured into the multiple stages, they were met with good vibes and high energy as many connected around their shared passions and goals.
Influencers Terrel Grice and Lala Milan hit the stage to offer advice to young creatives and shine a light on how they got their career started as well as tips on how to stay inspired. Towards the afternoon, podcast host and entrepreneur Bimma Williams sat down with Emmy Award-winning actor Jharrel Jerome who discussed his journey from the screen to music and why it’s important as a creative to stay authentic. Hollywood’s youngest executive producer Marsai Martin also stopped by, sharing gems about her journey as an actress and businesswoman, including the founding of her company Genius Entertainment.
For many first-time and repeat attendees, it was Invaluable information. The access to these influencers was there as Jerome hit the audience afterwards to take photos and share more insight. Founder Imani Ellis also took the stage to share a few words about the importance of spaces like CultureCon for young Black and Brown professionals.
“We deserve community and to be celebrated. We deserve to have a space where we can be brave, and free, and safe. Rooms like this are our privilege, they’re our birthright. And I am so so so honored,” said Ellis.
In addition to the new school, veteran celebrities were also on deck to share knowledge for attendees. Multi-hyphenate creative Issa Rae joined the CultureCon NYC festivities to thunderous applause from the audience. Rae joined AMEX executive Glenda McNeal for a fireside chat about her newest organization ColorCreative and its initiative to champion and mentor emerging creatives of color through the Find Your People Program (FYPP). Aimed at nurturing cohorts of creatives through well-funded projects courtesy of AMEX, FYPP hopes to provide spaces that Rae says she wishes existed when she was coming to prominence.
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Still the day wasn’t over, entertainer Teyana Taylor closed out day one with a discussion about her incredible career arc alongside Emmy Award-winning journalist Eric Jones. Before her departure, Taylor was presented with the inaugural CultureCon Legacy Award for Creative Disruption and Innovation, presented by her mother and children onstage.
The singer took to social media afterwards to share her gratitude.
“You could have given this award to so many others, but you chose to give it to me, and for that I am thankful and humbly grateful!,” wrote Taylor.
In addition to several photo-ops and an exquisite VIP lounge by MAX, there were also libations by Ciroc, and merch on deck, including a specialty curated “Per My Last Email” (PMLE) game expansion pack from #CultureTags. Not to mention an expertly crafted Resy Dining Hall featuring culinary offerings from Black-owned restaurants including Charles’ Pan-Fried Chicken, Aunts et Uncles vegan eatery and celebrity Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Patty Palace.
The second day was equally impactful with speakers including Culture House media’s Carri Twigg, HBCU Buzz founder Luke Lawal Jr., cultural influencers Scottie Beam and Sylvia Obell, as well as social justice leader Tamika D. Mallory. Mallory touched on the state of our current democracy and the importance of voting. Mallory also encouraged young creatives to participate in any type of activism and get engaged, sharing her personal triumphs and challenges as a frontline activist.
“You will never hear Tamika Mallory telling you what is the most effective form of activism. I support everything everybody does. Because I think it takes all types of activity to …bring awareness to what we do,” said Mallory.
The conference was capped off with activations from brands like Clinique and Shea Moisture. And CultureCon presented its first-ever Creative Career Job Fair. Attendees had the opportunity to pre-upload their resumes and meet with recruiters on site to learn about job openings in real time for companies like Walmart, Amazon Studios, Kickstarter, Google, and NBCUniversal.
Founded by CCNYC with the goal of “creat[ing] spaces where creatives of color can be seen and provid[ing] resources that lead to unprecedented access and economic freedom,” CultureCon is now in its fifth year since its 2019 launch. Billed as the “fastest-growing conference for creatives and changemakers of color,” the event lives up to its hype, with attendees receiving unprecedented access in an era where work and professional conferences are nearing extinction.
For speakers and attendees, the consensus seemed to be the same. It was more than just a conference for professionals, it was a true cultural hub.
“If I could describe #CultureCon in NY, it felt like an HBCU homecoming where EVERYONE is actually dressed well and you can get lit…but also get a job offer before you go home. A time!,” wrote one X user.
If I could describe #CultureCon in NY, it felt like an HBCU homecoming where EVERYONE is actually dressed well and you can get lit as hell but also get a job offer before you go home. A time!— C. (@WhatChaeSay) October 8, 2023
As the conference moves into its 6th year, we’re sure the greatness will continue. And we look forward to hearing the stories from #CultureCon alum on how this one conference single-handedly changed the career trajectory for so many professionals of color.
More than 10,000 were in attendance, with the conference boasting 30 panels and more than 100 speakers. If you missed this year, no worries, there’s always next time. But turn your notifications on and make sure you run, don’t walk, to CultureCon 2024.
Photo by CultureCon / The Creative Collective NYC