Arts & Culture

GameChanger: Alanah Nichole Davis

Cultural worker, MICA alumnus, and former nurse technician established a fund for artists in the wake of the pandemic.
—Courtesy of Alanah Nichole Davis

Alanah Nichole Davis’s earliest brushes with Baltimore’s storied art scene were in 2008—when she began attending shows of friends who were poets or performance artists—and found herself struck by the idea that expression could lead to something big.

And in 2015, the Bronx-born cultural worker, MICA alumnus, former nurse technician, (and Baltimore contributor), launched a performance series called “Much More Than an Open Mic,” inspired by “the act of expression as a tool in the community.”

“That was my first touch point with learning that art could be a catalyst for change,” says Davis.

Fast forward to COVID 16 months ago: As the city and its art hubs began to shutter, and creatives found themselves displaced, she was reminded of what it was like to struggle in her early days as a freelance writer.

“That $150 to $300 a week was integral to my way of life,” she says. “I’ve been blessed to be able to grow from that point. But I know that for a lot of artists and freelancers—especially Black and female—those dollars count.”

Within the first week of lockdown, the mother of two launched Alanah’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund, with a goal of helping struggling artists and freelancers stay afloat.

Through contributions from donors including singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe, and local organizations like The Warnock Foundation, Davis says she was able to raise more than $5,000 in a matter of weeks.

“Even though it was through micro grants—I was giving out anywhere from $25 to $100 per artist—I was able to help a little over 100 folks,” Davis says. “It was really important for me to do that. They’re worth a whole lot. Everybody should feel like it’s their role to support the arts.”