“When I think about what art [has] meant to me, it’s the reason I’m here. Like I wouldn’t have survived without art,” Ald. Andre Vasquez told Rome J. last week on TRiiBE TV’s “We Real Chicago.” Ald. Vasquez represents the 40th Ward and is a Chicago native, the son of immigrants, and a former battle rapper. 

Because of the pandemic, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is expected to see a budget cut from just over $40 million in 2020 to $24 million in 2021, according to Block Club Chicago. Ald. Vasquez spoke about the impact of the possible budget cut from his own experience as an artist.

“Hip-hop taught me not just how to express myself and be confident in front of a crowd but also how to hussle, [and] how to be an entrepreneur,” Ald. Vasquez told “We Real Chicago” host Rome J. “So if you don’t have that and the city doesn’t offer opportunities for Black and Brown folks across town to be able to plug-in to something like that, we all suffer.”

Next, Rome J. chatted with Sergio Mims, the co-founder and co-program director of the Black Harvest Film festival, an annual event in Chicago meant to highlight the work of independent Black filmmakers. 

In talking about the festival, Mims said, “The festival was created 26 years ago [as] an opportunity for [Black] films to be seen from all over the world.” 

One of those films is “Unapologetic,” a documentary directed by Ashley O’Shay that focuses on the work of Black women activists and organizers in Chicago. Mims called the film “one of the strongest films [in the festival] this year.” 

One of the “Unapologetic” protagonists, Chicago activist and revolutionary millennial artist Bella BAHHS, along with the film’s producer and TRiiBE co-founder Morgan Elise Johnson, joined Rome J. and Mims to talk about the festival, and specifically the importance of “Unapologetic.” 

“[‘Unapologetic’ is ] pushing us to really reimagine who the leaders of our country are, who they’ve always been, and what is possible when we invest in their leadership,” BAHHS told Rome J. 

”I want people to know this is a movement that specifically centers Black women,” added Johnson. 

To learn more about “Unapologetic” and the role of the arts in Chicago, check out “We Real Chicago” on TRiiBE TV.

is a researcher for TRiiBE TV.