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A photo illustration of a desk scattered with several different supplies, Sunday, June 11 2023.

Creative industry receives support from the capital


The founder, co-owner and director of local dance studio, VIIIZON Academy, Trey Pickett, said he would have benefited from funding in the creative industries. The Creative Industries Bill provides funding to people with creative occupations and will go into effect July 1.

When Pickett was young, he was inspired by the artistic abilities of artists like Michael Jackson and Prince. He said he loved to see how people moved creatively and it became his vision to dance, have a studio and work in the creative industry. So he said he began to work at studios throughout Albuquerque.

By collaborating with others, he said he wasn’t able to live his vision. “It was tied up in other people's opinions and narratives,” Pickett said, so he decided to create his own studio, but found that funding was hard to come by.

“You basically are just trying to make it happen. You're using anything and everything you have – your working jobs just to make your dream happen,” Pickett said.

Dealing with the business side of the creative industry, Pickett said, was difficult to do without losing the passion for the art.

“If funding was available for creative industries in the past, we would’ve greatly benefited from it,” Pickett said.

Currently, Pickett said his studio has to put a pause on adding to their team, but if they had the new funding, they would be able to create a budget and put it towards teachers, business operations and brand marketing.

Alongside adding a Creative Industries Division to the Economic Development Departments, House Bill 8 creates a fund for small businesses in New Mexico that promote local artists.

50% of the fund will support businesses in rural areas, the bill reads. Non-profit, profit and individuals are able to apply for the grant to fund their project.The exact amounts of the grants are yet to be determined, according to legislative representative and sponsor of the bill, Reena Szczepanski.

The entire bill was granted $2 million in non-recurring funds.

Oil and gas is not a lasting solution to support the state’s economy, and that creative businesses can help diversify it, Szczepanski said.

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“I just thought, my god, I personally know many artists who do their work as a side gig,” Szczepanski said.

Projects selected for the grant will be determined by a committee.

“New Mexico should be at the forefront. If you are a creative person in our country, you know you can make a living in New York or LA, and New Mexico should be the other option,” Szczepanski said.

Early on in the creation of VIIIZON studio, Pickett said they tried to apply for grants in the state and it never worked for them, until a grant was awarded to them by the Jubilation Foundation.

“Our community needs more ways to come together safely, but also an environment that invigorates people to make our state be as great as any other state,” Pickett said.

The idea for this bill came from a group of women who worked in different creative fields, Szczepanski said.

The goal of the project is to provide funding to help creative people make a living and keep them in New Mexico, Szczepanski said.

“There are working artists in all communities in New Mexico that are deeply committed to the work they’re doing,” Szczepanski said.

Miyawni Curtis is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @MiyawniCurtis 

Miyawni Curtis

 Miyawni Curtis is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo and served as the Summer 2023 news editor. She can be contacted on Twitter @MiyawniCurtis 


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