Why we Exist
Crux is a new company that catalyzes the spectrum of development for XR content creation from Black artists through all stages of ideation, education, capitalization, and distribution.
We aim to solve two clear problems:
There are no companies expressly distributing XR content from Black creators, creating a severe lack of diverse representation within the XR industry; and
Black artists and arts organizations have struggled to build sustainable businesses within the confines of philanthropy, necessitating the development of new, scalable revenue streams.
How We Behave
Our core values are rooted in liberation movements, as well as anti-racism and anti-oppression principles. They serve as a counter-narrative to traditional ways of building a revenue-driven business, and place a strong focus on being human-centered, building community, and leading with trust.
Specifically, our core values are:
Moving slowly and thoughtfully.
What we’re Up To…Right Now
Building a Platform. Crux will launch the first distribution platform that will aggregate and showcase dynamic XR content by Black creators.
Developing Original Content. Crux will be a catalyst in producing new high-quality XR content by Black creators.
Convening Creators and Systems Thinkers. Crux will curate convenings, meet-ups and salons with forward thinkers interested in experimenting, developing and supporting work in this ever-evolving space.
Creating a New Model. At its core, Crux is committed to developing a business model that capitalizes and sustains arts businesses for people of color, such as the creation of a for-profit cooperative in which many Black artists are employed and hold an equity stake.
Dafina Toussainté McMillan
Dafina has spent her career at the intersection of technology, arts management, philanthropy and communications. In addition to co-founding Crux, she has launched a thriving consulting business providing facilitation, program management and hiring support to clients including artEquity, 516 ARTS and the City of Albuquerque. Dafina was previously a program officer on the arts team of Bloomberg Philanthropies, where she managed Bloomberg Connects, a digital engagement initiative, and the Arts Innovation and Management program (AIM), a capacity-building supporting more than 260 small and mid-sized arts organizations in six U.S. cities. She also served as the Director of Communications & Conferences for Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for not-for-profit theatre. In 2012, Dafina was integral in launching TCG’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Initiative to support organizations and artists nationwide. Prior to joining TCG, Dafina served as the Associate Managing Director of Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, MN. She’s held numerous leadership positions at global public relations agency GCI Group (now Cohn & Wolfe) in New York, and consulted with the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on marketing and community engagement initiatives. Dafina is an alumna of the Kennedy Center’s International Arts Management Fellowship in Washington, D.C. She is a proud native of Houston, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She serves as Vice Chair of Coronado Ventures Forum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she resides.
Lauren Olivia Ruffin
Lauren has over 15 years experience in policy, marketing, non-profit management, business development, fundraising, and strategic planning in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She has served as Chief External Relations Officer for Fractured Atlas, the nation's largest association of artists and creators, since 2016. There, she is responsible for the organization’s marketing, communications, community engagement, and fundraising. She also leads Artist Campaign School, a new educational program that has trained 31 artists to run for political office to date. Prior to joining the team at Fractured Atlas, Lauren served as Director of Development for DC-based organizations Martha’s Table and the National Center for Children and Families. She was also fortunate to serve in various roles at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Children’s Defense Fund, New Leaders, and AAUW. Prior to transitioning to the nonprofit sector, Lauren was Assistant Director of Government Affairs for a boutique firm in Washington, DC where she represented a broad array of clients, including Comcast, SiriusXM, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the City of Philadelphia. In her spare time, she can be found mountain biking with her dog or gesturing wildly at the teevee in support of Duke University’s men’s basketball team. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Political Science and obtained a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law. Lauren serves on the governing board of Black Girls Code and on the advisory boards of ArtUp and Black Girl Ventures.
immersive technology Fellow
Akilah Martinez is an Immersive Technology Fellow with Crux. She is a member of the Diné Nation and an aspiring, emerging artist also known as "Glittering World Girl." Since 2012, Akilah has been directing and producing videos in her Native language to inspire Indigenous communities to preserve their languages and cultures. Her community-based videos and other genres of work are well received as they contribute to the expanding new mediums that Native Americans are utilizing to heal and strengthen their people. She has been featured in Diné/Navajo radio ads, videos, and songs for cultural preservation work and is also a consultant in the Native preservation field. She has served in a variety of roles, including as a judge at cultural events on her reservation and as a Media Production Technician at Navajo Nation TV & Film. Akilah recently started writing a Native American history column for Say Magazine, an Indigenous lifestyle magazine based out of Canada, as an alternative to one-sided accounts of white academia. Akilah’s prototype of interactive oscillator shoes was displayed at the FATE Biennial Conference in 2013. Her latest electronic art project revolves around circuit bent sound objects and Diné Bizaad/Navajo language. Akilah is the recipient of an Awesome Vegan Grant which will assist her in launching vegan cooking videos in her Native language. She obtained her BFA in Art Studio from the University of New Mexico in 2014.
Are you an artist, filmmaker, technologist, or just a geek interested in telling amazing stories?
Drop us a line with information about your project at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re especially interested in stories with well-developed characters and plot lines featuring protagonists from overlooked communities.