Annual Report

A year of re-animating cultural spaces, connecting community, &
honoring the history and future of Austin’s Black cultural district
A Year
of Growth
2015 was a year of strong growth for Six Square,
Austin’s Black cultural district: a new name, a bigger
team, more than 25 events and ongoing projects,
and over 2,000 people participating in Six Square’s
programming within the six square miles of East
Austin that contain so much of Austin’s rich Black
Our growth has been guided by our 2015-2017
strategic plan, developed by the Six Square Board
of Directors to make the organization even stronger
and support maximum impact and sustainability
for the District. Strategic priorities identified in
the plan include building organizational capacity,
communicating our story and values, and creating a
strategic financial plan.
Our Story and Values
Our New Name: Our non-profit organization launched
in 2013 as Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District.
Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural
District emphasizes the geographic scope of the
Our mission, however, has always reached beyond historical
District and claims this six square miles as a center
preservation to encompass both the storied past of the District
of Black cultural influence, with ongoing relevance to
and its vibrant future in the making. Our public face needed
our city.
to communicate the purpose of the District in today’s Austin:
modern, inclusive, exciting, and accessible to all.
Organizational Strength
Our Growing Team: In 2015, we continued to build the infrastructure that will ensure
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Six Square’s success as an Austin cultural institution. The Six Square Board of Directors
worked with founding Executive Director Lisa Byrd to create a staffing structure that will
uphold robust programming and organizational sustainability.
Ececutive Director
Office Manager
PR Firm
Programs Coordinator
Project Interns
Project Coordinator
Project Coordinator
Revenue and
Six Square was remarkably
successful at diversifying our income
streams, raising 50% of 2015
income from foundation and private
donations, with slightly less than half
from government contracts.
In 2015, the Austin City
Council voted unanimously
to support the District with
close to a million dollars
over the next three
The long-term District budget commitment from the City of Austin represents a
significant vote of confidence in our mission, programming, and organizational/
financial management
Fiscal Stewardship:
Six Square takes seriously our
role as a steward of public funds
and an organization accountable
to our donors and community.
We continue to leverage city
resources with private funding
from community institutions,
Program ans Special Events
Local Government
Foundation and Trust Grants
Individual Business Donations
foundations, and individual
donors, as well as in-kind
donations through a growing
number of partners.
Program Expenditures
Six Square maintains a focus
on long-term sustainability while
working to reduce overhead and
devote the bulk of resources directly
to programming.
In 2015, nearly 70% of expenses
went to programs, and slightly
over 25% in administrative costs,
including the cost of the Six Square
office, which, as a gathering
space, art gallery, and economic
incubator, is critical to Six Square
Program Staffing and Contract Services
Cultural and Artistic Production
Heritage and Preservation
Marketing and Communication
It’s Happening in Six Square!
2015 Programming
In 2015, Six Square sponsored film
screenings, a concert series, a major
Urban Music Festival block party,
receptions in the Six Square building,
concerts, gallery talks showcasing
six Black artists, author lectures,
and bus, bicycle, and walking tours
of the District. Across all areas of
programming, Six Square built on the
priorities that stakeholders identified
in 2014’s Community Conversations:
preserve the cultural representation of
Austin’s Black community; represent
the diversity of Black lifestyle in Austin;
2015 Program
Cultural and Artistic Production
Economic Development
Heritage and Presentation
develop formal and informal cultural
gathering spaces that will result in the
promotion of economic development;
and offer a space where diverse
elements in the District can join together
to learn about the history of the District
and build a new story for East Austin
that honors the District’s legacy. Our full
slate of 2015 programs advanced our
mission to mobilize the vibrant history of
Black people in Austin and the powerful
force of arts and culture to rebuild social
capital in the District.
Economic Development
Program Participants
Jump on it
R&B Challenge and UMF Kickoff Block Party
UMF Anniversay Reception
2015 Program
Cultural and Artistic Production
Economic Development
Heritage and Presentation
Economic Develop
Program Participan
Jump on it
R&B Challenge and UMF Kicko
UMF Anniversay Reception
Arts Program Participants
Film Screenings
Gallery Events
Education Program Participants
School Events
Lectures / Readings
Discover Heritage Map
Six Square Tour Participants
34% of the more than 250 tour
participants in 2015 visited the
District from outside of Austin
Heritage and Preservation
Community Support
$200,000 has been
committed to date
to the improvement
of Downs Field.
Preservation of Downs Field: Six Square is leading an ongoing
preservation project to improve the historic Downs Field ballpark
and revitalize its use in the community. Downs Field, designated
a historic landmark in 2013, was home to the Negro Baseball
League’s Austin Black Senators, Austin Black Pioneers, and Austin
Greyhounds. It has seen baseball greats Satchel Paige, Willie
Mays, Jackie Robinson, and Austin’s Willie Wells. It is now home to
the Huston Tillotson Rams and the Austin Metro Baseball League.
On Deck for Willie Wells Downs Park
Annual fundraiser by Austin Sports Commission New park entryway
Jackie Robinson Day Press Conference
at Downs Field
On April 15, 2015, Six Square launched
Phase 1 of the Baseball Legacy Project at
Downs Field. Mayor Steve Adler, Six Square
Executive Director Lisa Byrd, and Austin Parks
and Recreation Department Director Sara
Hensley were all in attendance as Lisa Byrd
accepted a major gift from the Austin Sports
Commission of the Austin Convention &
Visitors Bureau
Spotlight on Heritage
and Preservation
The ongoing revitalization of Downs Field was one of the major projects
of 2015. The community’s support for this project is illustrated by the
meaningful financial support Six Square has received.
Down Fields Revitalization Revenue
Austin Sports Commission
Austin Public Works, Neighborhood Partnership, (in-kind goods and services)
Austin Parks Foundation
Down Fields Expenses
Event Management
NPP Community Share
Rosewood Courts: As the Housing Authority of the City of Austin
considers various plans to revitalize Rosewood Courts, the first
public housing project for Black people in the United States, Six
Square has assisted with efforts to ensure that the revitalization
honors the legacy of the structure and its historic grounds,
Emancipation Park, while best serving current and future residents
and the District as a whole.
Cultural Marker Program: In December, Six Square announced the launch of
the Cultural Marker Program, a new initiative that will place preservation markers at
important and historic sites in East Austin.
These eye-catching, interactive structures will be a physical reminder to local residents and visitors of
significant events in Austin’s Black history.
A mock-up of the place markers for Six Square’s Cultural Marker Program, rendered by TBG, which
donated creative development services.
Tours: Six Square offers tours that encompass landmarks of Black architecture and design,
historic cemeteries in the District, sites of slavery and emancipation, churches, juke joints on the
Chitlin’ Circuit, and other distinctive places in Central East Austin. We offer bus, walking, and
cycling tours of the District to a wide range of community members and out-of-town visitors. All
tours are followed by a group discussion at Six Square
Celebrate the Essence of East
Making the District a
Six Square hosted more
than 80 people from
outside of Austin on
District tours in 2015.
“We don’t have
anything like this in our
-- National Association
of Transportation
Administrators tour
In 2015, Six Square hosted nine
District tours, including:
• A family tour for 25 people from all over the
country who meet in a different city every two
years for a family reunion. They chose Austin in
2015 after reading about the District online.
• A tour for a 15-member church group from East
Texas who found the District online and planned
a trip to Austin.
• A bike tour offered as part of the National
Association of Transportation Administrators
conference. More than 40 conference
participants from as far away as Australia
and South Africa registered for this special
opportunity. Bike Austin provided guides, and
Bike Texas provided bikes for the participants.
Additional tours included Tours for
the Austin area Urban League Young
Professionals, Austin Hillel, Blackshear
Elementary School teachers, the Essence
of East Holiday Tour and Reception, and
Austin Area Urban League Young
the Major Taylor Bike Tour.
Professionals bus tour
Lecture, Reading and Book Signing
by MK Asante
As part of Six Square’s ongoing collaboration with
Huston Tillotson University, the intellectual hub of
East Austin, author, filmmaker, and professor MK
Asante gave a lecture and reading to more than
80 students and community members through the
university’s First Year Experience Series. A book
signing at Six Square followed
Intergenerational Connections
Six Square took on collaborative projects with Blackshear
Elementary and Kealing Middle School, two public schools
in the heart of the District. Six Square provided District
tours, joined in the community gardens, and led ongoing
programs with adults and young people living, working,
and attending school in the District.
Community Gardening
at Blackshear Elementary
The Discover Heritage Map
is an interactive website ( exploring the history of the District through a
virtual tour of significant sites. Six Square has worked with Kealing staff and students to develop
the content of the map.
In 2015, Six Square and Kealing moved
forward with Phase 2 of the project.
Students created short animated videos
inspired by the District to be added the map.
Students also composed and produced
original electronic music, inspired by the
District and included in the Discover Heritage
Map. visitors. All tours are followed by a group
discussion at Six Square
Six Square presented to nearly 100 people about the Discover Heritage Map at the 2015 South by
Southwest Interactive festival. Six Square staff and Kealing Middle School students presented two
workshops on cultural place-making through interactive storytelling, one for 50 SXSW Interactive
registrants and one open to the public at the Carver Museum, with 30 people attending.
Kealing Garden Party
In preparation for the school’s second annual Community
Garden Party and Peace through Pies event, Kealing
students interviewed various elders in the neighborhood.,
then completed a photographic essay highlighting these
personal histories. Parents of Kealing students remarked at
the Garden Party that they themselves had not known many
of the stories shared before their children interviewed the
community’s elders.
Treasured Places: Preservation of the stories and memories
of the District is as important as preservation of the physical
landscape. Treasured Places, a Six Square oral history
project, collects personal memories of the District from East
Austin residents and others connected to the area. In 2015,
Six Square brought a travelling story collection booths to
Creative Action’s inaugural Community Arts Sunday at their M
Station location. Collected videos will be available for viewing
online at the District’s interactive Discover Heritage map
Cultural and Artistic Production
The Six Square District office has become a
cultural gathering space: a place to check out
new Black artists in Austin, a destination for
gallery talks, a venue for film screenings by
Black filmmakers and book signings by Black
writers. It has played host to block parties,
musical performances, and food tastings.
These cultural gatherings at the
Six Square house have the strategic impacts
of increasing awareness of the District and
of the community space offered by the Six
Square building; connecting, promoting, and
supporting musicians, artists, businesses,
and entrepreneurs of color; and developing an
active, lucrative artist culture in East Austin.
Throughout 2015, Six Square showcased
a wide variety of artists, musicians, DJs,
filmmakers, and writers who highlight
the diversity of Black life in Austin. Our
commitment to this goal shows, in everything
from the featured artist to the food at each
event: Six Square intentionally chooses local
Black restaurateurs as vendors and caterers,
with food at our 2015 events ranging from
fish and chips, to soul food, to New Orleans
PoBoys, to the gourmet fare of Chef Simone
and Chef Coi, from the TV reality show
Hell’s Kitchen.
Black Artistry
Art by Lakeem Wilson, Christina Coleman, Rex Hamilton, Damon Mosely, Beth Consetta Rubel, Ryan Runcie
Gallery talks by six featured artists • music by Serafia • food by Chef Coi
Celebrate Black Film Series
Co-sponsored with Capital City
Black Film Festival
• Pre-film
mixers with filmmakers and actors
• Music
• Three
screenings throughout the summer
• A
night of films by Black women
filmmakers, a night of award-winning Black
short films, a night dedicated to a fulllength feature
Nearly 200 attendes
Economic Development
Arts, culture, and historic preservation have
meaningful economic impacts. Revitalizing the
District and supporting the viability of Black
life in Central East Austin means supporting
entrepreneurship, building networks for
Black artists and Black professionals, and
strengthening community connections. By
hosting programming at the Six Square office
and throughout the District, Six Square makes
the District a destination, reconnects Black
professionals to Central East Austin, and
supports the economic viability of Black arts
by increasing visibility of the work of Black
artists, curating gallery shows that encourage
art sales, and building professional networks for
Black artists. In addition to directly supporting
businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs, Six
Square supports organizations that produce
events designed to provide resources for cultural
organizations, youth, and artists in the District.
Urban Music Festival
Six Square held a reception for the 10th
anniversary of the Urban Music Festival, which
emerged from the same African American Quality
of Life Initiative that catalyzed the creation of the
District, featuring Austin musicians and food by
Chef Coi, with 30 people in attendance.
Kickoff Block Party
Approximately 200 people attended a Six
Square-sponsored Urban Music Festival block
party, featuring Riders Against the Storm and six
other musical artists, a KAZI Untapped showcase
of new musicians, and local Black artists and
Jump On it
The well-known summer hip-hop concert series
Jump on It took place at Downs Field for the first
time in the summer of 2015, with more than 700
people attending the series over the summer.
Art Is Cool
Six Square partnered with Fum Fum Ko
Productions and Outreach Productions to
produce Art Is Cool, a visual arts gallery and film
showcase featuring art by four East Austin artists
examining culture, racism, stereotypes, diversity,
assimilation, and personal identity.
Part of the Community
Six Square is weaving itself into the fabric
of Austin: E.D. Lisa Byrd appeared in the I
AM BLACK AUSTIN exhibit at City Hall, and
served on the Mayor’s Innovation Council, the
Mayor’s East Austin Development Council and
as an advisor for the City of Austin’s Drawing
Lines Project, a public art initiative for diverse
representations across the city. In 2015, Six
Square had a presence at the Abriendo Brechas
activist scholarship conference at UT Austin, the
National Black Forum for Public Administrators,
the Susannah Dickinson historical symposium,
discussions of “missing middle” housing in
Austin, and public conversations around the film
Selma and the impact of civil rights legislation.
Community organizations like Mamas of Color
Rising, the Urban Music Festival, allgo, and E4
youth regularly hold meetings, special events,
and health or community outreach programs in
the Six Square office.
Revitalizing the District
In 2015, Six Square strengthened its
organizational foundations, developed a strong
presence in the District, and built connections
with a broad array of partners. Six Square
Austin’s Black Cultural District is well on its way
to becoming a community institution that serves
as a central hub of thriving Black arts and culture
in Central East Austin, to the benefit of Austinites
throughout the city.
Six Square’s Key Partners
Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau Wesley United Methodist Church
Carver Museum and Cultural Center Huston Tillotson University
Austin History Center
City of Austin
Major Taylor Bike Club
Austin Justice Coalition Urban Music Festival
Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce
Office of Artist Resource
Bike Austin Six Square Board
Six Square Team
Rev. Freddie Dixon, Board Chair
Community Leader, University of Texas
Lisa Byrd, Founding Executive Director
Donald King, Programs Coordinator
Hoover Alexander, Vice Chair
Chef, Restaurateur, Hoover’s Cooking
Virginia Cumberbatch, Secretary
Public Relations/MPA Student,UT-Austin
Matthew Gossage, Project Coordinator
Miriam Conner, Project Coordinator
Haile (Eshe) Cole, Historian
James Nortey, Treasurer
Attorney, Duggins Wren, LLP
Adrian Neely, Chair Emeritus
Business Owner, Triad Services
Ali Hopson, Production
Harrison Eppright, Tour Docent
Jen Margulies, Grantwriter
Ken Johnson
Architect, Clayton & Little
Willie Johnson
Retired, IBM
Frederick Douglas Bailey, Intern
Deaven Bean, Intern
Colin Swanson, Bookkeeper
Ramey Ko
Attorney, Jung Ko PLLC
Bernadette Phifer
Museum Curator, City of Austin
Carver Museum & Cultural Center
Adisa Communciations, Public Relations
Mike Cook, Attorney