Editors’ Note: This article was first featured on The Everygirl in September 2019. To highlight the important contributions of our Black writers, we are sharing it again for those who may have missed it initially.

When I arrived in Memphis, one of the first places I visited was The CLTV. The vibrant energy of Black creatives outside of Los Angeles energized me as my own creative spirit needed a boost. Stepping into the art space in Orange Mound, surrounded by Black art on white walls and diverse young faces, it felt like a welcoming sanctuary.

Meeting Victoria Jones, the powerful and welcoming Founder of The Collective, was inspiring. Her commitment to empowering the community through art resonated with me, highlighting the broader impact of creativity beyond oneself. In this interview, Victoria shares insights on running a non-profit, the significance of community, and embracing her Black identity unapologetically.

Name: Victoria Jones, Founder of The Collective
Age: 28
Current Location: Memphis
Education: B.S. in liberal arts with minors in history, African American studies, and English from Middle Tennessee State University

What was your first job, and how did you land it?

My initial job post-graduation involved various odd-end jobs until I found my path as an event assistant at Crosstown Arts. Landing this role was serendipitous, likely influenced by my involvement in founding the Black Student Union at Middle Tennessee State University and advocating for a more diverse audience base. Working there sparked our vision to create a space where Black art and community could thrive in Memphis.

Before we get started, what is The CLTV?

The CLTV is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing Black art and culture in Memphis, empowering Black artists to uplift the communities they serve. Believing that Black artists are pivotal change agents, we aim to provide them a platform to amplify their voices and drive the city towards its full potential.

We operate under the belief that Black artists are the most thoughtful, innovative, and intentional change agents currently working in the city.

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

How did plans for The CLTV come about? Was this a project you always envisioned, or did something drive you to open the space?

My passion for community organizing and admiration for art and Black culture converged during my time at Crosstown Arts. The inception of CLTV stemmed from my desire to create a space where Black art could be appreciated authentically within the Black community, addressing the lack of representation I observed in traditional art settings. This drove us to establish a platform that celebrated Black narratives and fostered genuine interactions among artists.

The location is the historic Orange Mound. How important was it for you to create this artistic safe-haven there? And how is the gentrification of Memphis impacting the community?

Choosing Orange Mound as our home became a natural decision due to its rich legacy as the first Black community built by and for Black individuals. Our dedication to serving Black neighborhoods and preserving their cultural essence led us to Orange Mound, striving to rejuvenate and empower these communities through art. As Memphis faces gentrification challenges, our focus remains on nurturing Black creativity and celebrating our heritage.

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You all don’t charge admission to view exhibitions. As a non-profit, how do you keep growing your business?

Our sustainability model evolves monthly, primarily driven by our team’s passion for Memphis. While we’ve secured some grants, including a significant one from the Hyde Family Foundation, we are diversifying revenue streams through event rentals and consulting services. Striving for self-sufficiency, we aim to uphold our mission independently, acknowledging the importance of financial resilience as a young, Black-led organization.

I loved ‘The Corner Store’ shop inside of the gallery. Are all of the makers sold there Memphis artisans?

Each vendor featured in ‘The Corner Store’ embodies a Memphis heritage and Black identity, resonating with our ethos of supporting local Memphis artisans.

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

What does your typical day look like?

Each day at CLTV brings a unique set of challenges and opportunities. From meetings to hands-on tasks like event setup and witnessing artists in action, we navigate a dynamic landscape that demands adaptability and perseverance. While some days may be tough, our collective goal drives us to make meaningful progress and drive change.

What advice do you have for black creatives who want to start a company, but don’t have the capital right away?

Commence without delay. Building a supportive team dedicated to your vision takes precedence over initial capital. Surround yourself with committed individuals, stay true to your mission, and embrace authenticity in your journey. Success may not come overnight, but steadfast dedication and self-care are crucial as you navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

This may be awful advice, but I don’t believe we have the luxury to wait.

Source: Bianca Lambert

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

From spending a little time in your art space, I can tell it’s all about community. Especially after talking with you, along with Talibah Safiya, who is a talented singer/songwriter and jewelry maker; and James Dukes, who is the founder of Unapologetic and a music producer — who both moved back to Memphis from Brooklyn. How does their work impact the growth of The CLTV and the art scene in Memphis?

Collaborating with visionaries like Talibah Safiya and James Dukes inspires us at CLTV. Their creative contributions fuel our team’s dedication and elevate the standard of excellence we strive for. Together, we foster a vibrant art scene in Memphis, showcasing diverse talents and nurturing artistic endeavors.

Do you consider yourself a mentor?

I aspire to be a mentor in the community, hoping to inspire others and leave a lasting impact by showcasing the power of collective action and artistic expression.

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

What about your work gets you excited?

Witnessing Black individuals embracing hope and striving for a better future, building a community united by creativity and resilience. The moments of joy and fulfillment in creators’ eyes motivate me to continue our mission with passion and dedication.

In the next five years, what do you hope to have accomplished with this initiative?

Our primary focus is on establishing ownership to ensure the sustainability of our work. By owning property, we aim to empower communities, fostering creativity and preventing displacement while leveraging our creative energy for positive impact.

Before my first visit to Memphis in May, I heard a lot of negative remarks about the city. But after three days, I didn’t want to leave because I was so inspired by the work you’re doing and the pride you have for your city. What do you want people to know about Memphis beyond the stereotypes?

Memphis boasts unparalleled art and culture, showcasing a vibrant creative scene that challenges stereotypes and celebrates diversity.

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Don’t prioritize politeness over authenticity when navigating spaces dominated by whiteness. Speak your truth unabashedly.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I take immense pride in launching the CMPLX, a significant milestone in our journey. While we have a long way to go, reflecting on the effort and dedication that brought us to that opening fills me with empowerment.

White folks won’t be any less white based on you being ‘polite.’ Speak your truth.

Source: @victoria.elizabeth.jones

Victoria Jones is The Everygirl…

Go-to brunch spot? Brother Juniper’s. It’s more of a breakfast spot for me, but it’s always my first choice when dining out, and the absence of mimosas is a positive for me!

Best BBQ in Memphis? Payne’s. Undoubtedly the best. Ready for a friendly barbecue debate!

Must-have beauty product? Better Than Sex mascara. A quick touch-up with well-kept eyebrows and this mascara adds a polished look. Keeping my nails done also gives a semblance of effort, enhancing my low-maintenance routine.

Favorite visual artist? To avoid bias, I’ll mention the artist I’m currently most excited about: Kiara Sally. Her growth as an artist is remarkable and promises greatness!

If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why? Oprah Winfrey or any Black female philanthropists. Aligning our efforts with other Black women for significant financial support would be pivotal in advancing our mission in Memphis.


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