“The fastest-growing conference for creatives and changemakers of color who plan to elevate their social network and make a real mark on culture” is how CultureCon describes itself. From my past experience, CultureCon should pat themselves on their backs and beat their chests a little harder because it’s more than just a conference—it’s SXSW Black culture.

CultureCon was created by The Creative Collective NYC, a Black woman-owned company founded by Imani Ellis, who was committed to curating safe spaces for people of color. The conference serves as “the ultimate creative homecoming.” It brings creatives, entrepreneurs, influencers and more, across all sorts of industries, together for panel discussions, immersive activities, interactive workshops and very lit mixers and parties. 

What started as a one-day event in New York in 2017 has now grown into a three-city tour in 2022. In May, CultureCon made a six-day appearance in Atlanta; in June, it popped up literally in Los Angeles for five days; and on its final stop this year, it will take place where it all began in New York City, from October 2 – 8. 

On the popularity and impact of the conference, Amber Mayfield, CultureCon's Director of Operations stated, “In addition to watching our community grow, I've enjoyed watching our team grow and seeing how each new addition to our team takes the conference planning to a new level of creativity and productivity. Imani gives everyone on the team the space to put their stamp on what they do and how they do it, and it is so beautiful to see what happens when we empower each other and let each other fly.” 

Such a huge event with an estimated attendance of 3,000 people is a massive undertaking and takes meticulous and detailed planning, 

Members of the CultureCon team. Image: Mark Clennon.

“It helps to work with a team of visionaries who are committed to the mission of CultureCon and are experts at what they do. We have amazing templates in place from previous CultureCons that we are able to revamp and rework to streamline our processes. Organization is key," shared Sunny Dae, CultureCon Project Manager. "I live by a spreadsheet—production schedules, identifying team roles and responsibilities, mapping out key dates and deadlines ahead of time.”

If you haven’t heard of CultureCon that’s a you problem because it has no shortage on celebs and partners. This year will feature appearances by Taraji P. Henson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lena Waithe, Winston Duke and more with past speakers including Will Smith, Keke Palmer, Quinta Brunson and Michael B. Jordan. The conference also rubs shoulders with the corporate world—HBO Max serves as the presenting partner and other sponsors include Netflix, Nike, Google, Coca-Cola, Jet Magazine and more. With such an amazing roster of talent and partners, we asked the criteria for their speakers,

“When it comes to our approach, we normally think about who the big changemakers and newsmakers are that year. We want to ensure that we pick people who are leaving an indelible imprint on the culture, entrepreneurs who are trailblazing for their communities, and provide resources that are relevant to the creative climate for the ultimate benefit of our audience,” said Eric Jones, CultureCon Talent Lead

Speaking of Jet Magazine, there are a lot of similarities between CultureCon and the magazine that’s shaped the lives of Black people for generations. Jet Magazine was for the community and curated by them much like CultureCon. The program for this year’s conference will be a Jet magazine, and folks will have the opportunity to create their own Jet cover and share #MyJetStory. 

“Jet Magazine is such a historic and legendary publication. When we got the opportunity to create our own issue for CultureCon, I told our team, I want to see happy Black people on the cover. We created a cover to set that tone, but wanted the entire issue to emulate that joy,” said Michael Oloyede, Art Director, The Creative Collective NYC and CultureCon

Nike’s Bill Bowerman once said, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” Well, I’m saying if you have a brain, you’re a creative and if you’re in New York City, the first week of October—no matter your race, ethnicity or nationality you’re going to want to stop by this amazing event.

According to CultureCon founder Imani Ellis, people can expect the final stop of their 2022 tour to be the ultimate homecoming for the brand.

“We will have two distinct stages: the Culture Stage, where conversations with impactful creative forces take place and the Creator Workshop Stage, where creatives can learn valuable and tangible skills to further their passions. This year’s return to NYC will be so special because we have not been together in person since 2019,” she shared.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals and conferences and CultureCon is special. It’s community and camaraderie united in Black creativity. A place where gatekeepers aren’t welcome, all the doors are open and everybody eats. CultureCon is a strategic alliance fueled by creativity. And CultureCon couldn’t have said it better…”Come for the vibe, leave with a tribe.”

For more information and to register for tickets, visit www.theccnyc.com/culturecon. Join the conversation via social @TheCCnyc and @CultureCon.