NEWARK, NJ – A black art gallery in Newark seeks help weather the financial mayhem of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since opening in February 2019, the Akwaaba Gallery in the city’s West Ward has made a name for itself, showing a variety of works by underrepresented artists, including local students.

But now it needs the help of the community, says Laura Bonas Palmer, who owns the gallery together with her husband Ray Palmer. She explains more about the situation in an online fundraiser, what can be seen here.

As of Thursday, the campaign had raised more than $ 36,000 from over 300 donors and shared more than 1,100 times.

Palmer says:

“Over the past two years, Akwaaba has grown to become the arts hub of the West Ward and an art destination in the city of Newark. Akwaaba is not just a gallery, but the heart of our community and a welcoming place where art lovers and artists can feel about us believe that artists need a point of sale in order to sell their work and should be able to live sustainably in this way. We were that point of sale and featured local, national and international emerging and established artists. “

She continues:

“My husband and I are passionate about building and building a stronger community in the city we call home. We love Newark and the community our gallery is in. My husband and I invested the initial capital which is required for Akwaaba to open. The gallery is open five days a week from 10 am to 6 pm The gallery makes its income from selling art and renting event space. We have no employees and I am responsible for the daily running of the gallery. “”

Like many other Brick City businesses and venues, the coronavirus crisis has hit the gallery hard, Palmer said.

“As a result of the pandemic, we were closed from March 16 to July 27, 2020,” said Palmer. “We were closed again from November 25th to December 4th, 2020 [during the city’s mandatory lockdown]. Due to the closings and capacity restrictions, we had to cancel five exhibitions and all of our event rentals. “

“Also, we haven’t been able to rent the space for events for almost a year,” writes Palmer. “Like many minority small businesses, we didn’t qualify for the PPP loan, unemployment, and most arts scholarships (we’re not a nonprofit).”