PURPOSE Productions supports artists and organizers in the mothering of PURPOSE-full work that seeks to unify and develop our world community.
Founded by A. Nia Austin-Edwards, PURPOSE Productions works with individuals and institutions to collaboratively bring visions to fruition through marketing, management, support for families, and more. Named after the Swahili translation of her own name (Nia), PURPOSE Productions grounds itself in the principles of Kwanzaa, an African American holiday celebrating the fruits of ancestral, communal, and individual labor.
Since 2013, we’ve supported dance artists such as Adia Tamar Whitaker and Marjani Forte-Saunders, theater artists such as Ella Turenne and Latonia Phipps, organizations such as 651 ARTS and STooPS, and initiatives such as Paloma McGregor’s Dancing While Black and Camille A. Brown’s The Gathering, among others. Our work is rooted in an Africanist aesthetic and value system, and our community represents diverse cultures, genres, and experiences. While Kwanzaa focuses on the African-American community, PURPOSE Productions seeks to support and engage a world community joined by the common thread of humanity.
PURPOSE Productions was named in the Kwanzaa of 2012 following a seed planted at the self-produced evening of performance …first…. During that Feburary production, Nia reflected: “Performing is my medicine, but producing is my passion. In fact, the producing is the easy part!” Months later after a sister-talk with Marjani Forte-Saunders, Nia decided to embody her lifestyle into an institution that could support artists she loved and believed in.
Within six months of this naming, it became clear that this work was life-work. Nia left her full-time position as Marketing & Communications Manager at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange with no savings and a lot of clarity. Timothy Veit Jones joined her as partner in life and work which increased the institution’s capacity and helped keep Nia sane. This partnership thrived through the fall of 2014 when it became clear that more hands were needed to sustain this structure. That November, we put out the call for support staff to work on a project-basis and the team grew to seven people in the months that followed.
In the winter of 2016, growing pains ensued again. Feeling overwhelmed by managing communication between the team and our sojourners (read: clients), Nia took some time to vision a staff structure that would support the company’s rapid growth. These Liberation Levels, as they became known, defined a pathway for team members to enter, develop, and exit the PURPOSE Productions team after which they could create their own enterprises rooted in the practices they learned working with us. Our team is a throughway, a rite of passage that invites folk to move from survival to thriving supported by strategy and purpose.
We are making space for thriving and liberated lifestyles. By amplifying the stories that are so often left to the margins, we are challenging the definition of art and artists. We are making sure that in this digital of instant access, you also have instant understanding of the multitudes of Blackness and Black art that is being created, improvised, and developed. By handling the administrative tasks and watching the babies, we create time and space for the making, the improvising, the developing. And by understanding our role as engagement and not service, we are shattering the hierarchies that continue to leave artists, particularly artists of marginalized communities, reaching for crumbs under the table.