Tell us about your business.
Miss Coco Murray (www.misscocomurray.com) is a mobile, dance education business with artistic services representative of African and Caribbean arts. Organizations, schools, and communities can book performances, choreography, dance instruction, research and education consultation that is culturally responsive. This is a socially responsive business that delivers arts that highlights the history, social significance and contributions that black artists and master teachers hold.
I am also the Artistic Director of Coco Collective (@cococollectiveto), a multidisciplinary and intergenerational group of artists. This collaboration offers cultural facilitators and arts-based programs using artforms from the African and Caribbean diaspora. The purpose is to make the cultural arts accessible to neighbourhoods and socially respond to the needs of racialized peoples and priority groups.
How did you get started?
My 20-plus year artistic journey began after performing with a local group formed in high school. I began apprenticeship training with a professional company using an Africanist aesthetic in the late 1990s. Simultaneously, I was approached to teach a recreational class in my childhood neighbourhood in Toronto. As a social response, I did not see culturally relevant experiences and started my own cultural dance class.
I performed with many Toronto-based Caribbean and African dance companies for several years. While training, performing and teaching abroad, more opportunities came at different intervals. I went through a 10-year evolution of being hired to teach in studios, develop community arts programming for others, perform as an individual and become a guest choreographer for performance groups. I launched my own community arts program last year in North Etobicoke to share artistic practices with the next generation of African-Canadians.
How did participating in Artrepreneur help you? What was the most valuable thing you got out of the program?
The Artrepreneur program was an important form of professional development. I reflected on all the individual skills I offered in different points of my life. Indirectly, I realized that I established myself as a brand with the referrals I built over 20 years. The program provided tools and the critical path to market my vision and I attracted a wealth of opportunities provincially and internationally. Additionally, I learned the business side of the arts and boldly grew into a path of leadership. The program had great facilitators and resources. The most valuable thing I learned is that as a creative entrepreneur, we are more than entertainment for the audience’s gaze. Artists are business entities that contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our communities. Whatever contribution I can make to preserve African/Caribbean diasporic arts in a pluralistic, Canadian society, I do it proudly and collaborate as my ancestors want me to.
Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for upcoming artists/creative entrepreneurs?
“Be open, be self-aware and share your passion. Be able to hear feedback about yourself or you miss opportunities to grow.”
“The time to manifest is NOW. So create, do not hesitate!”
To stay updated with Miss Coco and her journey, follow along on social media (Instagram/fb/twitter: @misscocomurray)
Only a few days left to Apply for Artrepreneur and take your passion to the new heights! Click here for information. Deadline to Apply is February 4, 2018.