Breaking Down Barriers to Build a Different Wrld

(L-R): Roxanne Snider, Honey Simone, and Garnet “Nettie” Fisher have seriously new plans for the old Mothlight.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

A new cultural and creative hub will soon open in the West Asheville space formerly occupied by the Mothlight venue. Honey Simone, Nettie Fisher, and Roxanne Snider launched the project, Different Wrld, in an effort to create a radically inclusive community space while breaking down systemic barriers to the creative industry. Their shared intent, as explained on their website, is to support members of the creative community with the tools and resources needed to fulfill their visions, build their dreams, know their worth, and make a living. 

A main focus is on closing the resource gap for emerging artists, says Fisher. “There are amazing craft resources in the community. But a gap exists when it comes to resources for new media and digital resources — tools that emerging artists need to move to the next level.” Indeed, overlooking that disparity has resulted in many overlooked and disenfranchised artists — even in a city that bills itself as a progressive incubator for the arts. As Simone observes, “If you aren’t talking first about access, you aren’t breaking down the barriers. It is never a lack of creativity; it’s a lack of resources.”

Fisher adds, “We’re talking about things like laptops, blogging and podcasting equipment, or a photo-studio setup to photograph their work for an online store. Everyone is creative and we want to uplift people who don’t ordinarily get the opportunity, Different Wrld will connect them with the resources and other people in the community who can help them do that.”

Snider recalls a profound sense of loss when the Mothlight closed, and how that contributed to the inspiration and urgent determination to establish Different Wrld. “The Mothlight was a really special space for our community, and when it closed in the middle of the protests last year we said, ‘Our reality is already shaken, let’s do it!’ — and we leaned into that. For me, these kinds of cultural houses and public spaces have several points of activation. You’ll walk in and get a coffee, then check out whatever equipment you need. Or start a conversation or get introduced to someone who might take you to the next step in your goals or whatever you are curious about. The space is there for nourishment and support.” 

To that end, Different Wrld plans to host experimental art installations and performances, and to build out a coffee bar, retail center, and Asheville’s first Filipinx restaurant (Neng Jr’s). Central to the Different Wrld mission is a heartfelt commitment to hold a safe space, as the website states, “for queer folx, BIPOC and all the creative weirdos.” 

Simone emphasizes, “We don’t need any more overpriced art studios. This space is for everyone, all the time. One of the biggest questions we get is if we will have music, and the answer is, ‘Of course we will!’ During the day it will be more of a work space, and in the evening flip into special events and music.”

Different Wrld, 701 Haywood Road, West Asheville. To learn more, visit differentwrld.com and on Instagram: @differentwrld, or text “wrld” to 828-761-3010.

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