Falling into the Arts in Chapel Hill

Looks like it’s going to be great weather for this Sunday’s Festifall on West Franklin Street–Chapel Hill’s 44th annual arts festival. More than 100 juried artists will be there, along with live performances and interactive offerings, as well as musicians, comedy, dance, and magic. For the first time, too, music presented on an outdoor stage by Local 506, emceed by local recording artist/actor/improviser Josh Rowsey. And for the hungry, food trucks.

Noon to 6 p.m. See you there!

I spoke the other day with Dan Cefalo and Emily Kass, the chair and vice-chair of the Town’s Cultural Arts Commission, who with other volunteer commissioners are eager to greet folks from the Commission’s booth at the festival. There’s much to be shared about what’s going on with the arts in Chapel Hill–all of it aimed at implementing our Cultural Arts Plan. The plan, adopted in May as an element of the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan, reflects several years of active work by the Arts Commission in conversation with the community, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work they are doing.

Dan and Emily wanted to emphasize two opportunities in particular that are coming up in October. If you’re a local artist or know one who might be interested, the deadline for both applications is October 14.

Into the Streets

To encourage artists to get out of the studio, this project invites artists or teams to create temporary or permanent artwork. The project should be socially engaging and should be centered on a group with a common interest or experience (examples: at-risk youth, cancer patients, domestic violence survivors, etc.). The project can be in Chapel Hill or Carrboro. All media are eligible, including spoken word performances, electronic media, 2-D and 3-D visual installation, etc. The final project must be completed/exhibited/performed before June 30, 2017.

The total funding available is $7,500. More information here.

The 2016-17 Creative Projects Program

The Creative Projects Program offers nonprofit organizations and individual artists up to $1,000 each to implement artistic/cultural projects or events that benefit Chapel Hill visitors and residents. Projects should be inclusive at the levels of race, culture and economic status.

More information here.

Among other ideas the Arts Commission is working toward, one is to re-imagine Sculpture Visions, the Town’s long-standing project in which large-scale sculptural art is displayed on a rotating basis. This year’s section consists of thirteen pieces, including several in Pritchard Park near the Public Library. The Commission is looking for ways to make this program more accessible and inviting to the public and to artists, and they’ll soon be announcing a forum in which they’ll be soliciting suggestions from area sculptors and interested residents.

Finally for now, I’ll mention the 140 West “activation experiment” going on today through Sunday. Envisioned and executed by graduate students from UNC’s Department of City and Regional Planning, the goal of the project is to recommend interventions that would increase activation of this central public space. You’ll find colorful chairs, table and umbrellas, plants on loan from the UNC Botanical Garden, internet access and charging stations–and volunteers you can talk to about what works and what doesn’t.

I say “for now” because this brief post doesn’t come close to relaying all the work the Cultural Arts Commission, together with the Town Council and its partner the FRANK Gallery, are doing to enhance the presence of the arts throughout Town offerings. This includes ideas that would put art to work in the service of social equity–ideas such as those advocated by Mindy Fullilove, for example, in her inspiring talk in April. The arts hold the powerful potential to enhance the lives of all of us as we look for ways to become a fairer and more inclusive community.


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