This Week's Guest:

Air Date: February 8, 2024
Cooperative Advocate, Financial

Allen Kwabena Frimpong, co-founder & Principal of ZEAL discusses Role of the Arts in Attaining Economic Justice


In honor of the 2024 Black History Month theme of African Americans and the Arts, Vernon interviews Allen Kwabena Frimpong, co-founder and principal cultural designer with ZEAL, a worker owned studio alliance for Black artists throughout the diaspora. Vernon and Allen discuss how the organization has provided cooperative economic alternatives that enables artists and creatives to thrive.

Allen Kwabena Frimpong is a cooperative entrepreneur, cultural designer, and conceptual artist. In addition to being a co-founder of Zeal, he is a founder of several powerful and influential social entrepreneurship endeavors. He was a managing partner of AdAstra Collective, which is a boutique consulting cooperative whose vision is to transform power through networked movement building for a just, democratic, and liberating world. AdAstra Collective also anchored the work of the Old Money, New System community of practice 2016-2020, that supported movement resource mobilization initiatives that strengthened social movement ecosystems. Lastly, he co-founded Liberation Ventures and was a former Senior Fellow at PolicyLink, creating a field-building organization that takes a networked approach in building a culture of repair towards winning on reparations in the US.

Allen has supported the capacity-building of many organizational efforts over the last 20 years with a unique interdisciplinary practice in community organizing, cultural strategy, transformative leadership advising, resource mobilization, and participatory planning within networked complex systems of communities. He is also the current board chair of one of the oldest social movement public foundations in the US, Resist.

Allen has a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Affairs from CUNY Hunter College and graduate certifications from the UPenn School of Social Policy in the Executive Program on Arts and Cultural Strategy as well as the Center for Popular Economics at Amherst College. He also studied at the New York City Jazz Workshop.

ZEAL offers support with networks of creatives to reclaim their birthright as creatives who co-create cultural equity; cooperatively own, steward, and govern the means of their cultural production; and drive the economic vehicles and infrastructure necessary for arts and culture ecosystems in historically vulnerable communities to mutually thrive. ZEAL is most known for its critically acclaimed pop-up exhibition “Who Owns Black Art?” during Miami Art Basel 2019-2022 which has been featured in the New York Times, ABC Nightline, and Hyperallergic to name a few. As a conceptual artist he designs and produces multimedia anthologies.

For more information about ZEAL or other initiatives Allen is involved in visit the following websites:




Our host, Vernon Oakes, is a consummate advocate for cooperatives. He is a Past President of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and he’s served on several boards and committees to advance the interests of cooperatives. Recently, he served on the Limited Equity Cooperative Task Force, established by Anita Bonds, At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia. Vernon is an MBA graduate of Stanford University, who has used his business acumen to benefit the community, by promoting the added value of the cooperative business model. 

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