She hopes to provide a platform for small Black-owned businesses and start-ups to envision themselves in some of the vacant downtown storefronts, while drawing diverse crowds to the downtown area from around the region.
The fiscal agent for the event series and event partner is Downtown Middletown Inc.
“Jazz was the unifying factor,” Novak said. “We want to show those outside our community that we have a lot to offer.”
She said the Jazz series is an event for “everyone” and will generate “a different vibe than what we’re used to downtown.”
Novak mentioned three Black-owned downtown businesses, Potato Bar in the Pendleton Art Center, Mz Jade’s Soul Food on South Broad Street and Miracles on Broadway on Central Avenue.
There needs to be more such businesses, she said.
“There is a gap and we need to fill that gap,” she said. “There is not enough diversity downtown. We are here for the Black community. They don’t always hear that.”
The goal, she said, is to make all residents comfortable in the city and to keep them living and working in Middletown instead of moving out of the area. Novak said two of her four children have moved away.
“I have to do something so they can have a better life,” she said. “We want them to build their lives here.”
Another solution involves connecting existing regional resources in Dayton and Cincinnati to the Middletown community such as the Minority Business Assistance Centers in Dayton and Cincinnati. And the last approach is to create programming where gaps have been identified
The MBBC has applied for the United Way Black Empowerment grant but will not have a response until September. She said the group is looking for other community and regional partnerships. To help offset the costs for these community events, the MBBC is looking for event sponsors.
HOW TO GO
WHAT: Jazz series
WHEN: 7-9 p.m. July 23 featuring The Crew with Yolanda Drake; Aug. 27 featuring Audrey Whitaker Wright and her band; Sept. 24: an Afro-Latino jazz band
WHERE: Governor’s Square, downtown Middletown
COST: Free and open to the public