Ang Bennett first got involved in BFF when they moved to Omaha from Des Moines over seven years ago. They wanted a way to get into the local arts scene in their new hometown, and they found that beloved space in a little town called Benson.
Ang has excelled in a lot of roles at BFF throughout the years; most recently, they transitioned from acting as the Inclusion Chair to taking on a larger organizational role as the Vice President.
Even though their role has shifted, diversity, equity and inclusion are still a huge part of Ang’s work — in fact, they say that it’s a part of their “every day.” Ang believes it should be a practice that is ingrained into every organization, no matter what role you play (and we agree!).
“How are we more actively engaging different demographics in the stuff we’re already doing? That is inclusion!” said Ang. “It’s not ‘we’re diverse, so we have only Black arts month and women’s arts month.’ Actively and consistently reaching out to people to invite them in is inclusion.”
Inclusion and diversity is an effort that Ang is excited to rally behind in BFF’s newest gallery, BFF Gallery. The new space—located right on Maple Street in Benson—aligns with the values of BFF: Advocating for Inclusion, Opportunity, and Unique Experiences. The gallery is set to be a beaming example of those values in action.
“It’s going to be a diverse group of artists,” said Ang. “It’s going to be emerging, established, all colors, all genders.”
Ang is eager to kick off this next adventure as the artist curator for the newly-launched space. They said they not only want to feature talented local artists, but they are considering bringing in regional artists to show their work as well.
“I’m excited to curate the shows. I love engaging with other artists,” Ang said. “I love finding them, looking at their work, helping them build their body of work, and showing their work.”
The ribbon to the BFF Gallery was officially cut on February’s First Friday and welcomed in guests to see photographs from the last decade of BFF history. The space will be used as an art gallery for the public, but it will also be home to other important BFF spaces, including a gathering place for volunteers and a studio space for artists.
When asked “Why BFF for all these years?”, Ang said they admire how untraditional the organization is.
“I think the way we digest art has shifted so much from these traditional galleries and spaces,” Ang said. “BFF is doing amazing work but it still has that grassroots feel. It feels like anybody can come be involved and anyone has access to the art, which is really important. Everybody should feel like they can access art.”
If you’re an artist who would like to host an exhibit at the new BFF Gallery, we’re eager to hear from you! You can learn more about Ang by connecting with them on Instagram and listening to their podcast, OmahArt!