For more than 10 years, the Bailey Learning and Arts Collective, Inc. (BLAAC) has worked with local minority communities to provide art education, outreach and community organizing.
This month, the 501(c)(3) organization’s founder and executive director, Terri L. Bailey, received her first Business Art Award and proclamation from the city of Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department at the Thomas Center.
“It felt great [to receive the art award],” Bailey said. “It was a big honor to be recognized for all the work I’ve done in and throughout the community in the past.”
The proclamation that was given and read to Bailey after the award declared March 16th as the organization’s official day of service.
“I nominated Terri for the award because she is definitely a pillar within our community,” said Brandon Telg, a BLAAC board member. “There’s so much that she does specifically for the art community and the community at large, and she essentially lives her life for this community in many ways. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to honor the things that she does.”
Telg said the nomination entry was originally for all the good works the organization does, but soon he realized it was a great way to give Bailey her “flowers.”
“I felt so wonderful on the behalf of Terri,” Telg said. “She is somebody I really look up to, admire, and to see her get an award on the behalf of the city and have a day declared after the organization was really wonderful to see.”
Bailey said with her organization, she’s very consistent with her presence in the community. She said the organization offers a variety of events, including holiday parades, art competitions, art exhibits, and writings to heal women through empowerment work.
“Most of those activities have some component of the arts, whether it's visual, a writing aspect or performance and film,” Bailey said.
Queens Room is a women’s group that is available through Bailey’s organization that was launched and taught as a virtual she-shed during the pandemic. It focuses on self-care, healing and empowerment to replace workshops they couldn’t do in person.
“We assert that every woman owes it to herself to practice self-care in some form,” Bailey said. “A woman should be able to empower herself, and what [the group] can do is offer tools to help her get to that point of empowerment and to heal from some of the trauma, big and small, that may encounter them from living their most authentic life.”
Bailey said they host workshops in the group such as “Writing to heal,” “Flip The Script, Rewrite Your Narrative,” “Living Your Most Authentic Life,” and “Warrior Women’s Wellness.”
“I also have interns through the University of Florida’s active learning program every semester that I just want to give an opportunity to, to allow them to see what community outreach and organizing looks like at very ground floor or foundational level,” Bailey said.
One of the interns’ assignments includes creating a community outreach event that could be either virtual or in person so the interns can learn how to host an event on a limited budget, according to Bailey.
Bailey said she tends to work with older people but having interns, who are often younger, provides her with beneficial help, and in return, she hopes they can gain valuable experience while working with her team.
“Our organization believes in a ‘boots on the ground’ organizing technique,” Bailey said. “That includes door knocking, passing out flyers and making phone calls, which leads to grassroots ideology organizing, which is an old school way of approaching people while trying to effect change through collaboration, community, and meeting people face to face.”
Bailey said for those who are interested in her organization and its events can grab a newsletter at area barbershops, beauty parlors and certain restaurants located within and around the Black communities in Gainesville.
Bailey said in the future, she plans to create more women-based workshops and host a second workshop on gentrification where she will bring in a cultural arts component with her latest grant that she received from UF’s Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.
Bailey encourages local residents to come to together to support not only her organization when it is hosting events but other community-based nonprofit organizations as well.