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MY WISH: A message from CD Forum Executive Director, Sharon Nyree Williams

You know it's funny, I can’t help but to now think about how wrong I was in what I wished for CD Forum. It’s not a secret that I was the sole employee of CD Forum for years. During that time, I use to dream about the day I would have employees to help run the organization. I knew I had to build a team because just me and my board of directors wasn’t going to ultimately be enough. A couple of years ago, my wish came true. Me and my board was excited, we could finally put a team together of staff and contractors that would help sustain the organization and support our mission.

Fast forward to today, we are in the midst of a pandemic, The Corona Virus. I find myself worried about my team, worried about them taking care of themselves, praying that they will stay healthy, asking them constantly, “How are you doing? What's going on with you? How is your family?” and just making sure that they know I’m here for them.

In addition to that, I'm realizing that artists have already been doing what I wanted to achieve when it came to running CD Forum. I've learned and truly believed in having a diverse revenue stream. Now I'm most worried about those who have diversified their revenue stream, our artists. Until now it seemed like the perfect plan. But I’m learning it doesn't matter if you teach classes as an independent creative or for a local organization or for a college and/or if you’re performing for events, commissions and/or workshops. You diversified, you've came up with a plan, a master plan and it was working until now. If one job fell through you hustled and found a new job. Or better yet created your own opportunity. That’s just what artists are trained to do. Survive.

Now I'm worried about them. I'm worried about all of us because now everything is threatened. Be careful what you wish for because now I have the harsh reality that I may have been wishing for the wrong thing. I'm questioning everything I know about how to run an organization, how to take care of the CD Forum family (staff, contractors, artists, caterers, etc.). Being an artist has never been just about creating art. It’s about impact, giving voice to the voiceless, allowing someone to be their authentic self, shaping the narrative about culture, sharing experiences, telling stories and having fun. Art is nothing without the people making it, the audiences that support it, the funding that supports it, the teams that produce, the experiences that shape it and the foundation that built it.

I must confess I don’t know how to be a leader at this particular moment in time. I can’t tell you if a diverse revenue stream is now a bad idea. I can’t distinguish between what’s right and what could be wrong. I don’t know how to make it through this. I’m at a point where I have no answers. Last week I texted Stephanie Ellis-Smith the founder of CD Forum. She is one of the wisest women that I know and I reached out to her because I was hoping that she would have an answer for me during this time. She said, "Sorry, Sharon. This is unprecedented." However, the wisdom that she was able to give me was, there's just things right now that we can't control. My response was, you’re right we can only do what we can do. We can only worry about what we can control right now, the unknown is uncontrollable. I sit here in my house feeling beat down, looking past my computer and out the window thinking, but how do I help my community?

I know I have a purpose, CD Forum has a mission, our family has a vision, and our community has a mandate to thrive. With all of us doing what we can do when we can do it. I believe that we will be stronger in our quest to be of service. My new wish is that we make it through this together and we do that in the most loving and humane way.


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