It’s been about three hundred and twenty days since Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States, but boy, it feels like a whole lot longer. Every day brings a seemingly infinite parade of awful stories of corruption, moral bankruptcy, and general villainy in government chambers. It’s all been terribly exhausting.

But amid all the clouds, many people have channeled their righteous anger and frustration into something fruitful, through small and major acts of civic engagementand through art. This week, we celebrate those whose work in the latter category makes life in the Triangle better and more just. Though the Indies Arts Awards have honored local artists who make a positive impact for nearly three decades, we are more grateful for them than ever this tumultuous year.

The winners include Mettlesome, a comedy troupe that is redefining the culture of stand-up and improv, and Tim Walter, an adventurous patron who’s helped meet needs for unconventional art spaces in Durham. Ruby Deluxe and Arcana are a pair of bars keeping their spaces queer-friendly, while Empower Dance Studio uses dance to foster inclusion and confidence in people of all ages and races. We also salute Blackspace, whose work encourages youth of color to imagine and pursue radical futures, and the Saving Space Showcase, which is breaking up the logjam of white men’s bands.

These people and organizations offer far more than a fun time or food for thought. They provide comfort, refuge, encouragement, and affirmation when we need it desperately. We’re proud to call these people our community members, and we thank them for moving us toward brighter horizons.

With the Comedy World’s Toxic Culture on National Notice, Mettlesome is a New Kind of Organization for a New South

The Saving Space Showcase Parts the Sea of White Dude Bands While Raising Money for Local Nonprofits

Instead of Compromising with White Supremacy, the Afrofuturist Youth Center Blackspace Is a Visionary Alternative

Arty Bars Ruby Deluxe and Arcana Cultivate Queer-Friendly Atmospheres in Raleigh and Durham

More Than Just Dance, Empower Dance Studio Teaches an Inclusive, Diverse Vision of Downtown Durham

Tim Walter’s Long Effort to Give Downtown Durham a Venue It Needed Pays Off in the Nick of Time