Shout Out Saturday is a series meant to highlight real and singular women and non-binary people, in a variety of lines of work, both ‘known’ and unknown, from across the country.
Hannah Kreiger-Benson is a musician, advocate and strategist for the cultural community in New Orleans. She does Programming and Research for the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO), which includes collecting data on historically overlooked topics like amount of gig pay musicians take home in various contexts, and the legal forces that shape the distribution of music venues across the city landscape, researching the history of the cultural micro-economy of the Frenchmen St. music corridor, overseeing the MaCCNO pandemic microgrant program, as well as advising the City on policy and the ways it impacts cultural practitioners. As a musician, Hannah has been active in various scenes for over 15 years, on trumpet, piano and vocals as well as arranging and music-direction. She is a Camel Toe Lady Stepper, a Board member of Culture Aid NOLA and the Musicians' Council on Fair Wages, and a proud resident of MidCity.
Glitter Box: The most real, most honest piece of advice you have for someone working their way up in your field (or any field).
Hannah: "It's not as scary as you think it is" is something that I find relevant to almost every area of my life, and something I want to tell everyone all the time! Also, to not assume that systems and structures are set in stone-- pull back the curtain, and it's amazing what you realize can be dismantled, reimagined etc. Also, particularly as a woman in almost any field, take up more space than you think you 'should', because we're taught to take up so little.
Glitter Box: What do you think is the most important thing we need to do to achieve a more equitable and just society?
Hannah: To recognize that when we talk about 'middle ground' or something being 'radical', we're leaving out the fact that things aren't on a level playing field. We need to reimagine the ways we frame discussions around access, fairness, equity, etc. to recognize that theoretical 'middle' points aren't what we should be working towards. And listen to, support, and center Black women.
Glitter Box: What does success look like to you? In your field, what are you working towards/striving for?
Hannah: I have an unusual dual identity in my professional life -- I work as a musician, and also an advocate/strategist/policy nerd/community organizer/data and research person. These are very different fields, with differing goals. As a musician, I'm always seeking the perfect balance of musically, socially and financially fulfilling projects, and in my work with MaCCNO and related organizations I'm long-term looking to 'work myself out of a job' by solving the structural inequities and power imbalances and necessitate the work to begin with. However, while music is about bringing people joy, and advocacy is about protecting people from harm, both are seeking to make peoples' lives better.