If you have creativity with no structure, it can be hard to truly dive into your passions. This is what led Ben Matukewicz to pop the question to BFF: “How can I get involved?”
Ben, one of BFF’s executive board members, initially knew BFF in the way that many people are first introduced to it: BFF’s bread and butter, First Fridays. Although Ben had been a graphic designer and a filmmaker for quite some time, he was unsure of how he would fit into BFF’s network of artists. What began as Ben simply wanting more structure and experience in the creative field, turned into a love affair with a new community.
“My entire life changed,” said Ben. “Connection to people, connection to community, connection to the arts — I think that’s what BFF does best. It serves as a connecting point for all of it. Omaha needs that.”
Ben joined BFF in 2019, during one of its most transformative eras. Within the first year of his involvement with BFF, Ben transitioned from his role as an intern to an executive administrator. Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic stormed in and challenged BFF to continue fostering a community of connection and creativity in new ways.
BFF didn’t seem to miss a beat, Ben says. One of the things he admires most about BFF’s spirit is that there is never any hesitation to shake things up or overcome an obstacle.
“BFF is full of people getting shit done,” said Ben. “Cultivating a mindset of always moving forward is probably one of my biggest takeaways. When you’re a part of this community, it’s always ‘what can we do to try to make this happen?’, and that has changed the way I think about everything.”
Ben was not always sold on the idea of continuing to live in Omaha past college age. He’s noticed a common question pops up among young Omahans: “When are you going to move out of Omaha?” That all changed once he got involved with BFF. A handful of his friends and family members have moved away, but Ben believes he’s found a community in Benson that he’s not sure he could find anywhere else.
Being integrated within BFF and Benson for over three years has opened doors to countless, unexpected opportunities for Ben. With the support of BFF and the connections he’s made in Benson along the way, he co-founded Aksarben Creative and, most recently, became the manager of Trudy’s, BFF’s newest shared artist space.
As for the future of BFF, Ben wants to bridge the gap between people who are involved in the Benson creative community and people who aren’t currently looking to Benson as a hub for community and the arts.
“I think there’s something for everybody here,” said Ben. “My personal mission is making the arts community more accessible. And really trying to make it so that people who may not be interested in the arts can still be a part of it and experience what is going on here. Benson is for everybody.”
To learn more about Ben and his work, please visit www.aksarbencreative.com. You can catch him at Studio 62 during July’s First Friday on July 1.
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