Tasha Hunter – Uptown Business District and Long Beach Arts Council
Written by Lisa Khiev
A soul for the arts, Tasha Hunter grew up in local Inglewood and later transplanted to Long Beach as her career as a filmmaker turned community advocate and more, emerged.
Now, as a full-time mother, executive director of the Uptown Business District, and the president of the Long Beach Arts Council, Tasha’s many roles continue to weave into our city’s involvement in the arts and its people.
Tell us who you are.
I am a mother of three amazing young people… and the executive director of the Uptown Business District. I’m also the president of the Arts Council of Long Beach and a culture heritage commissioner.
How would you describe your role in Long Beach?
Strengthening and enlivening communities through business and arts sustainability. Uptown District is my job, and the Arts Council is my passion and the two weave into each other.
What does it mean to you to be a female leader in today’s society?
I don’t try to be a leader.. I just want to get the job done. I’ve been fortunate with timing, the door has always been open for me. That’s huge to say that I’m a leader…. I just want to do the good work of the people, to serve the underserved, and I want to serve those that have the ability to help others. As a woman? I’ve had some strong women in my life and I continue to keep strong women in my life. What it means to be a woman is finding my own voice and being passionate about the things that are important to me and our city.
Do you find it challenging at times to carry the roles that you do?
The toughest part is coming to terms that I can’t do everything. There’s so much. I have daily motivations that pop up on my phone.. And the one that popped up today is “not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” That was by Mother Teresa. That’s how I lead. I tell anecdotes. I tell little stories.
My background is in filmmaking and I also went to school for journalism. Both my bachelors and master degree is in film. Working in film, I’ve worked in large studios, Discovery Channel, BET, .. I’ve done all kinds of different things. And then, when I took a hiatus from the film industry, I worked at a church as a Director of Operations, which is so outside of my comfort zone. They hired me because I know how to take large things and put them together, I also do event planning. So when I came to the church, the pastor told me, “you’re responsible for everything that’s not biblical or sermon-related. I love the fact that you have all this business experience, arts experience, filmmaking experience, leadership experience, but I am going to task you with something. I want you to lead from the heart, as if you are dealing with broken people.” I think that’s the challenging part, to lead from your heart, It’s very human. That was in 2012, it was a transformative moment for me. I was raised by a Marine Dad and a sweet Mother with a background in producing film. So, taking that and leading from the heart is what I’ve done since.
What advice can you give to women aspiring to take on a similar role?
I let them know to be kind, my mother taught me to always be kind. She used to say, “You need to kill a person with kindness” and to this day, I can say I’ve never burned any bridges. Also to humble themselves enough to be able to apologize or find resolution. Taking on a similar role? I would say.. to have a self-care regime in everything you do. The world is so fast-paced. I listen to affirmations every morning – “Speaking to your inner child – you are enough, you are growing, you are everything.” Affirmations, that’s daily self-care. I also fit in the gym but Self-care is our armor.
What are some of the best things about Long Beach, from food to culture?
I grew up in Inglewood, CA, and then we moved to Orange County, then I moved to Long Beach. I love the people and the diversity, It’s like a little UN. I love the food. Also the young people, I used to teach at Long Beach Unified; I still go in once or twice a year to teach. The young people have vision and drive.
And, the art. We have so many different mediums; film festivals, art galleries, and murals. The murals in Long Beach are always telling stories, they’re beautiful.
What are some of your favorite food spots in Long Beach?
I am big on Indian and Thai food. We have two big Indian restaurants here, the Ratash, downtown and Kittara, near Cal State. El Pollo Imperial near the Business District is amazing. I also like Seabirds. I love all the different cultural food options. I’m also very into mom and pops, I like to spend my money at places that are supporting families rather than corporations.
How can we learn more or get involved in the work that you do?
For the business district, we have our Instagram and website at uptownlongbeach.com and the social is @uptownbiz. For Arts Council, we have a website at artslb.org. We have an arts registry asking artists of all genres to go and upload their work. We focus on helping artists to sustain their craft while remaining in the city.
Main projects at Arts Council?
Our main focus now is arts education. We have bigger grants and micro grants for community projects. We’re targeting the schools and teaching students about the cultural arts. Arts Council is always doing something. With Uptown District, we are going through a lot of changes in North Long Beach. A lot of new businesses and developments are coming in the next few years.