Archive for the ‘conversations’ Category

The Commons at CPA – Brings New Depth to Performing Artists Residencies

imageCarolina Performing Arts is launching an exciting new residency and festival for performing artists called The Commons – “a new initiative devoted to supporting performing artists and fostering local creative community and discourse in and around the Triangle”. This program offers a four-week residency in May, inclusion in a new festival at CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, and, perhaps most importantly critical feedback for the three selected locally-based artists.

Selected performing artists will receive a stipend, plus free studio time for four weeks to work on a performance to be presented at CPA’s new Commons Festival taking place May 30 to June 1. Two big differences in this residency are that the three locally-based artists/groups of artists that are selected are encouraged to share studio time with other artists of their own choosing. Further, each artist will be paired with a writer/critic to create content and work together on a talkback experience at the Festival. The Commons Festival will feature performances by the selected artists, as well as additional events, from networking to roundtables on performance criticism/arts writing.

Carolina opens CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, a flexible and immersive performing arts venue in the heart of the new Carolina Square development on Franklin Street. February 2, 2018. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Carolina opened CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, a flexible and immersive performing arts venue in the heart of the new Carolina Square development on Franklin Street in February 2, 2018. It will be the location for the Commons Festival.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

CPA Postdoctoral Fellow, Alexandra Ripp explains -“Drawing on Carolina Performing Arts’ 18/19 season theme of citizenship, The Commons manifests our desire to strengthen the link between the individual and collective in the local artistic community, creating a “commons” of shared resources. While the Triangle’s performing arts landscape is full of vibrant creativity, artists face barriers to both making their own work and fostering supportive community around it. CPA sees artists and their creative community as deeply interwoven, and we want to invest in cultivating supportive relationships with locally-based artists and strengthening “artistic citizenship” in the Triangle.”

The residencies are open to local artists “whose applications most keenly demonstrate that their intended performance is pressing for this time, place, and community. Successful proposed projects will question and break accepted performance conventions, invite audience co-creation, and take bold artistic risks.” Interested?  Check out the
residency application, which is due by February 21, 2019. Find out more about Commons here

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Triangle ArtWorks Director Elected to AFTA Private Sector Council

We are thrilled to announce that our Executive Director, Beth Yerxa, has been elected to the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Private Sector Council. AFTA is the leading organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America and Private Sector Council members advise Americans for the Arts’ staff on developing programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and the network membership. As part of the Private Sector Council, Yerxa will also work with fellow arts leaders to develop and implement private-sector advocacy programs and serve as leaders to other local arts agencies seeking to connect with the private sector.


Private Sector Council members of a tour of the Wynwood Arts District in Miami.

“Americans for the Arts strives to cultivate the next generation of arts leaders in America, and I am pleased to welcome Beth Yerxa to our advisory council,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These leaders are willing to dedicate their time and expertise to work with peers across the country to shape national programs and messages and help craft services for states, communities, and local organizations”.

Private Sector mtg Miami notes

Brainstorming notes from the Council meeting (w/ a view of Miami!)

This position also provides Triangle ArtWorks a unique opportunity to deepen relationships we already have with other arts leaders around the Country and not only keep up with, but be a part of affecting changing trends in the arts around the country.  This knowledge and access will help Yerxa and Triangle ArtWorks advise Triangle arts leaders, as well as serve the Triangle arts community better. Directors of arts organizations from Miami/Dade, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco and many other cities and towns are represented on the Council.

In January, Yerxa participated in her first Private Sector meeting, where she was briefed on changing trends in arts, such as the CREATE Act.  She also provided input into the discussion about the changing field of arts support and the role of the arts and culture segment in the larger “creative economy” and tp talk about the work that Triangle ArtWorks is doing to support this business segment here in the Triangle.



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TEAL is Back! With a Lunch & Learn on Audience Building on 9/23

11694064_10153580657021495_1207117681964864248_nTriangle Emerging Arts Leaders, that group of young (or young at heart) folks working in the arts in the Triangle has taken a bit of a hiatus.  But its BACK!

We are bringing back TEAL’s popular lunches, but adding a new element.  Its easier to get away from the office when you are learning something…right!  So, each TEAL lunch will now have a discussion topic and a discussion leader from the Triangle arts community. As always, TEAL lunch is also just a great time for networking and discussion of general issues facing arts leaders.

Here’s the info on this month’s lunch:

TEAL September Lunch and Learn

This month’s topic:

“How to build an audience – through social media,
collaborations & other crazy ideas”

img_0281Leading the discussion will be G. Todd Buker, Artistic Director of Bare Theatre. Commonly referred to as a “vagabond” company, Bare is a Triangle-based company that does not own its own stage/theater (which saves a lot of money!). In the last 5 years, the company has grown its audience tremendously through crowdfunding, social media, and collaborations that have enabled them to pay the artists involved! Todd will begin the discussion with a short talk on the topic and then open the floor for group discussion. Come ready to share stories on what has worked or what hasn’t for you, and to learn from each other.

Here are the details:
Where: RTP Frontier, Dive Conference room, 3rd floor
When: Friday, September 23
11:30      RTP Food truck rodeo opens in the Frontier parking lot. So, grab lunch there (come early, there will be lines!) or just bring a brown bag lunch!
12:00     Discussion begins
1:00        Official ending of discussion, feel free to stay and chat!

Who should attend?

  • Anyone trying to build an audience, customer base, whatever … and looking for new ideas on how to build a community around and support for the work you are doing.
  • Anyone who wants to meet and network with other young (and young at heart…we don’t check ID’s!) people working in the arts field in the Triangle.
  • Anyone who needs to expand their network of like-minded people from across the Triangle and across the Triangle region … to share ideas and successses as well as failures and frustrations.
  • Anyone who just wants to meet new people or see old friends over lunch!

Find out more about TEAL and sign up for our email list here, and follow us on Facebook!!

The event is free, but help us make sure we have room for everyone by signing up here.

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TEAL hosts Fundraising Discussion with Christina Menges

11694064_10153580657021495_1207117681964864248_nNew-ish to Fundraising?

Want to build upon your development skills?

Come learn from area expert, Christina Menges, in our upcoming TEAL. discussion.

  • Tuesday August 11th from 6:30-7:30pm at The Frontier in RTP
  • Speaker: Christina Menges, Director of Development for ARTS NC STATE.
  • Light refreshments provided.

During this interactive discussion we will explore key topics such as:

  • How to meet potential donors/supporters
  • Improving networking skills
  • How to make “The ask”
  • How to market yourself or your organization for greater appeal to potential donors/supporters
  • Engaging and maintaining donors /supporters
  • Donor/supporter relationship etiquette

All in an interactive, discussion setting, where you can ask questions, share strategies and learn from the speaker and each other!  For more information, email us.  Let your friends know you are coming on our Facebook event page!

What? Never heard of TEAL?

Want to learn more about Triangle Emerging Arts Leaders (TEAL) – who they are and what they do?  Look at their Program page on ArtWorks Site.  For up-to-date information about TEAL events, check out their Facebook page!

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Social Media Guidelines Added to the Site

Triangle ArtWorks social media platform is growing fast and becoming a go-to resource for the Triangle arts business community for news and information that matters to your work.  Along with this comes increased requests from the Triangle arts business community to push out events, jobs and other information.  Creating a platform to make it easy for the community to find this information is an important ArtWorks service and we are happy to see this platform growing.

However, given we are working with all-volunteer staff, we also have limited capacity to process the information. So, it is helpful if information sent to us for promotion to this community meets our mission and is promoted fairly.  We have long followed informal guidelines for our Social Media platform.  To help our community understand what we will push out and what we don’t, making it easier for us and you, we have put these guidelines in writing on the site here.

And keep sending us the great community information!  Send any community information, or questions, to our email. Or just tag us on twitter @triartworks.


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New “Read Local Festival” connects and celebrates Triangle’s “literary ecosystem”.

By Taryn Oesch

The Triangle is known for its dedication to eating local and shopping local, with such events as food truck rallies, farmers markets, and Restaurant Week becoming staples of our local culture. Now, thanks to group of dedicated volunteers, the Triangle will also be reading local.

PrintThe Triangle is home to an abundance of literary talent, and its literary culture is only improving, says Elizabeth Turnbull, local author, senior editor of Light Messages Publishing, and organizer of the new Read Local Book Festival. She uses the term “local literary ecosystem” to describe the Triangle’s literary arts scene, and the phrase is apt.  An ecosystem is a community of interdependent groups living in cooperation with each other. Certainly, this description fits our local literary ecosystem, and the Read Local Book Festival is an excellent example.

While many other state and national book festivals may only involve one publisher or bookseller, Read Local avoids competition by inviting all local vendors to participate. The festival is completely volunteer-led; even the authors are attending free of charge. Many of the events are free and the proceeds from those are being donated to the Durham Library Foundation. As Elizabeth points out, a community library, as the place where all members of the local literary ecosystem come together, is the perfect partner of a “read local” book festival.

The idea to create the Read Local Festival came from Elizabeth.  As an editor, she wanted a way to be able to really connect with her local authors – sometimes a difficult task at a small press like Light Messages. The term “Read Local” came from one of her authors. It started as a broad campaign and then they decided to create a small festival. Elizabeth gathered together a group of librarians, nationally bestselling authors, small publishers, and community volunteers, and soon this small festival grew into a two-day event to be held May 16-17. That kind of growth is “what happens when you get a group of brilliant people together,” she says. Events include workshops, panel discussions, an exhibitor fair, celebrity readings, lightning readings by emerging authors, an “Author Buffet,” and – the grand finale – “Writers in the Ring,” a boxing-themed “write-off” complete with audience jeering and cheering.  Find out who is coming, so far,  here.

Members of the local literary ecosystem, such as publishers, booksellers, designers, and artists, can apply online to participate in events or in the exhibitor fair. A full exhibitor table is $100, and half a table is $50 (again, proceeds go to the Durham County Library).

If, like me, you are excited by the thought of becoming a more integral member of the local literary ecosystem, sign up for email updates or to volunteer at the festival. There are opportunities for everybody, and the volunteer sign-up form not only allows you to select which days and times are best for you, but will tailor your volunteer shift(s) based on your interests. (For example, if you really want a volunteer role that will enable you to interact with the authors, you can say so!) If you have any questions about volunteering, email Elise Sharpe, the festival’s volunteer coordinator..

Do you tweet? Facebook? Share the event with your friends and followers! And of course, one of the easiest ways you can support the festival and your local literary ecosystem is to show up. Come to a workshop on graphic novels or a panel on writing about music, buy tickets for the Author Buffet and meet your favorite local authors, or come to Sunday’s free exhibitor fair to learn more about ecosystem members and get some swag (free in exchange for a donation to the Durham Library Foundation)! You can also contribute financially by sponsoring the event or donating online.

Aside from the Read Local Book Festival, Elizabeth and her team are working on other ways to build the “read local” movement in the Triangle and beyond. (Stay tuned for a Cookbook Rodeo!) For instance, Elizabeth wants to create a booklet to share her experience and advice for people in other towns who want to create similar “read local” festivals. She encourages everyone to “read local” by going to local booksellers and asking what local authors and presses they represent. In fact, she expands the definition of “local” and recommends doing the same when you visit another town, state, or even country: It “gives you a depth of understanding and richness you wouldn’t have otherwise.” It’s like reading Huckleberry Finn while traveling the Mississippi or perusing the poems of William Wordsworth when visiting England’s Lake District.

Taryn Oesch is a freelance writer and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School in 2006 and Meredith College in 2010. She enjoys volunteering for The Justice Theater Project and organizations that support children and teens with chronic illness and disabilities. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books.


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You Are Invited! – ArtWorks Open House on January 21


It’s a New Year and we have a New Office and a New Partner

So we are inviting the ENTIRE TRIANGLE ARTS COMMUNITY in to see our new space and help us celebrate!

We are creating a space to bring the Triangle arts community together and kicking it off with an Open House on Wednesday, January 21. Join us at The Frontier from 4-7pm to tour the space, learn more about Triangle ArtWorks and our work, and socialize with other members of the Triangle arts industry.

Arts Now
will be there taking pictures, engaging with social media and creating some fun! They are an engaging media platform that works to give the Triangle more access to the abundance of artist in the Triangle.  Check them out here.

Representatives of other organizations that serve the arts business community will also be on hand to provide information on their services. And we will be taking your input on future programs and services, as well as ideas for our new partnership with Research Triangle Foundation.

This is the first time that the entire Triangle arts community, for-profit and non-profit, individuals and groups, all disciplines, have been invited to come together as a community.

Don’t miss this event! Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the future of the Triangle Region and the Triangle arts industry!

The Open House is FREE, but registration is necessary. Directions and registration are here

More about ArtWorks New Space at the Frontier


A Central Space for ArtWorks and the Arts Community

On January 5, 2015, Triangle ArtWorks moved into an office in The Frontier at 800 Park Offices Drive in Research Triangle Park.  The Frontier is the first building in Research Triangle Foundation’s (RTF) new Park Center concept.  RTF envisions The Frontier as a space where people can gather, network, and innovate across boundaries – a perfect place for Triangle ArtWorks.

As a practical matter, this location provides ArtWorks an office that is central in the Triangle, making it easier for staff to serve the arts industry in all five counties of the Triangle.  It also allows us to have a central location for meetings and events, that can be more easily accessed by artists from all sides of the Triangle, which has been a challenge, to this point, for us and our work.

New Resources and Opportunities

This move gives us more than just a great location.  As part of this move, ArtWorks has begun working collaboratively with RTF to develop methods to bring the Research Triangle Park community together with the Triangle arts community to expand and ignite the work of both.  The Research Triangle Park is an important component of what makes the Triangle an amazing place to live and work.  RTF has spent the last year working to reinvent RTP for the future, and is looking to create new spaces and places, such as Park Center and the Frontier, but also wants to start doing things in a different way.


The window of the main lobby of the Frontier sums up RTF’s goals for the space.

As part of their underlying beliefs, RTF states “We are dreamers, believers, planners and creators. We imagine what the world could be and then roll up our sleeves and make it so. This is where ideas are nurtured; where we’re free to look out over the horizon and dream big; where asking, “What if…” is the norm.”  We at Triangle ArtWorks know that this is what artists do every day. So bringing the RTP community and the arts community together just makes sense.

Part of Triangle ArtWorks mission is to create new resources and opportunities for the Triangle arts community as an industry group. ArtWorks research into community needs show that the arts community needs new venues to perform and show their work, they need more opportunities to expand their work and to discover new ways of approaching their work, and they need to reach new audiences.  They also need more opportunities to come together as a group, or by arts discipline or interest, to learn, network and share resources.

Through our new office location and our partnership with RTF, we will not only have a place to bring the community together, we will be able to work with RTF to create opportunities to, for lack of a better word, SMASH the Triangle arts community and the RTP tech/biotech/engineering community together and see what new things happen.  We have lots of ideas and plans for programs and events that would allow these groups to network, work together, support each other and take both communities in new directions. There are model programs globally for such work, but the Triangle region should be a leader in this work. We can’t wait to get started and look forward to your participating in this work!

Have questions? Want to learn more? Want to get involved? Email us!

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TEAL – Triangle Emerging Arts Leaders Roundtable June 23rd

Are you getting the support you need to grow as an arts leader?

A recent TEAL monthly lunch at Bocci.

What resources or programs do you need?

Come learn how others are finding support and help us look at ways to better support Emerging Leaders.

This article in the recent Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders blog salon, caused several TEAL members to contact us and say “Are emerging leaders getting the support they need?” So…let’s talk about it!

Join us for a TEAL roundtable discussion about what pressures Emerging Leaders feel to grow, learn, and adapt their work, and how they are dealing with it.  Talk to other Triangle’s young arts leaders about how and where they are getting the support and resources they need.  Also, help ArtWorks identify unmet needs and help us brainstorm on ways to meet them.

Afterwards,  join other Emerging Leaders and more “seasoned” arts leaders for networking, fun and perhaps a local beer or two!

Date: Monday, June 23rd
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Mercury Studio 401 W. Geer Street Durham (behind & below Motorco)

The Game Plan:

6:30-7 Networking and Mingling
7:00 Roundtable discussion begins
8:30 Group adjourns to Fullsteam to continue discussion/networking
We will also be inviting leadership from other arts service organizations to listen to the discussion, so that we can have more minds and organizations involved in working on this issue.

Let us know you are coming! RSVP by email.


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A Conversation with…Art of Cool’s Cicely Mitchell. Working to bring a jazz festival to Durham.

This article is the fourth in our series of “Conversations With” members of the creative community in the Triangle who are thinking big, working hard and making a difference in our Region. 

Today, we talk with Cicely Mitchell, who, along with trumpeter, arranger and composer Al Strong, is the founder of  The Art of Cool Project, a nonprofit presenting organization.  Art of Cool is dedicated to presenting and promoting live jazz (and related music) in unique venues throughout the Triangle.  Art of Cool is a Triangle ArtWorks Partner and we have been following AOC’s growth from the beginning.  It has been amazing to watch the impact of this Organization’s work on the jazz scene in the Triangle, largely brought about by the hard work and tenaciousness of  Cicely Mitchell.

In this interview, Cicely talks about the Art of Cool, what its like to build an organization from scratch and AOC’s quest to bring a jazz festival to Durham. 


Tell us about what brought you to create Art of Cool in the first place?

We wanted to connect the jazz musicians with the audience in an intimate distraction-free environment. Since one of our founders is a musician, it was very important to empower musicians and the pop-up jazz concerts, so we first started with just that.  Our first concert was at LabourLove Gallery in Durham.  We hosted shows in art galleries, then club venues, then outdoor stages like American Tobacco. The drive comes from the scene. The people who love jazz influenced music are growing in numbers and want more experiences. We aim to please. The festival is the next natural step to provide a larger cultural experience centered around jazz/soul music.

Tell us about AOC’s successes so far.  What are you proudest of?

I’m proudest of planning the jazz fest for 2014. We have been working on this for over a year now and it seems to be coming together nicely.

Pierce Freelon at an AOC show at American Tobacco.

How are you making this happen?

Volunteers. Hard work. Partnership resources. Hard work. Late nights.

Why a jazz festival, why Durham, why now?

Durham has the talent, venues, and audience to launch a successful jazz festival. Durham is currently home to three-time Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist, Branford Marsalis; six-time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon; Grammy nominated jazz bassist, John Brown; and Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, Kate McGarry. These Durhamites are great examples of world-class local talent that live among us in the Bull City. In 2012 The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) finished #5 in box-office sales and Carolina Theatre finished in the top 100. Both of these venues are in one city block (five minutes walking distance) from one another in proximity. The audience for jazz is well-educated, high-income earners, and between the ages of 35-55. The Triangle area with its abundance of universities, health care and research companies, and technology startups is a great pool for a jazz roots audience. With these three elements (talent, venues, and audience) working in our favor, Durham is poised to tap into its rich music tradition of jazz/blues roots and produce a two-day multi-venue festival downtown in 2014. (Editor’s note-Can you tell Cecily is a statistician?)

F.O. Finch III, Ed Butler, Lisa Veronica Wood, Aaron Bittikofer and Jim Crew at Koka Booth Ampitheater. Photo courtesy of Sweet Life Studios 2013

How’s it going?

Great so far. We’ve formed a lot of partnerships in order to pull it all off. We just announced our first two headliners: Maceo Parker and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. We also will be partnering with NCCU to present their 2014 NCCU Jazz festival prensentations within our festival

What can the community do to help?

The community can purchase their wristband early via our  Kickstarter . We need the cash flow to continue booking and hiring production/logistics teams. By purchasing the wristbands early they help us get cash earlier than the day of show to build the infrastructure we need to execute the festival and we are offering them a slight discount. Tickets for the festival will be 10-15% higher due to taxes and the club membership fees.

To learn more about the Art of Cool Project visit their website, attend their next event: The Zombie Jazz Apocalypse at Motorco, or learn more about and support the Jazz Festival.

A Conversation with….Leah Wilks

This article is the third in our series of “Conversations With” members of the creative community in the Triangle who are thinking big, working hard and making a difference in our Region. 

Today, writer Tim Scales talks to Leah Wilks of LeahWilkesDance.  In this interview, Leah talks about her work, how she works and, perhaps more importantly, why she has chosen to do it in the Triangle.  For more on this, listen to Leah’s  Interview with David Dower on the Theater Blog “HowlAround”.

by Tim Scales

You were raised in the Triangle, then moved away for several years. What brought you back to Durham, and how has being back influenced you as an artist?

Leah: Well, there were a number of things that brought me back to NC and then to Durham in particular.  Primarily, I was living in the Bay Area right after graduating from college and I think over the course of the year or so that I lived there I had the slow epiphany that really I wanted to be making my own work. While the Bay was a great place to learn, I also realized that it would take a long time to establish myself enough to do the kinds of things I wanted to do artistically. I think I realized that in moving back to the Triangle I could bring those same sorts of artistic dreams to fruition in a much shorter period of time.  While I love performing other people’s work, the desire to create my own pieces has always been what has primarily driven me in dance.

How has being back here influenced me as an artist?  In a billion ways. What I love about this area is that it’s big enough that I’m always meeting new artists whose work I can’t believe I’ve never come across before, and when we make plans to meet up and further discuss what we’re working on they ALWAYS follow through.  That doesn’t happen in a lot of artistic hubs.  I think being in a place where I don’t have to work ALL the time to make ends meet means that I can afford to spend time creating my own work, meeting with other creative folks to find out more about what they’re doing, and discussing how, collectively, we might expand the scope of the artistic scene in the Triangle area.

There’s also something about being in an area that is, in some ways, at the beginning of really growing its arts scene (particularly dance) that makes me feel that we have the phenomenal opportunity here to develop the arts as we see fit; that we don’t have to create our work within somebody else’s tried and true model – that we can create our own paradigm and platform for exploration.  In some ways that makes it hard.  We don’t have some of the institutions in place (particularly in terms of space and funding) that larger cities have.  But that lack of traditional support also means that we have to be more creative in how we get things done, oftentimes leading to our being able to produce work in ways we might not otherwise have imagined.

Your work tends to cite many collaborators. Why is that?

Leah: I love collaborating with other artists – they get me out of my own head!  I suppose what it really comes down to is that I’m interested in creating worlds for participants/spectators/audience members to enter into – spaces in which they can confront themselves, hear other stories, and see other alternatives for how things might be.  I have some knowledge about how to do that through movement and relationship between people on stage and through music and audio documentary work.  However, I know that someone working in film, or costume design or visual installation may be able to help that world come to life in a way I could never conceptualize of on my own.  In addition to the artistic inspiration that comes out of those collaborations, the added beauty is also in getting to work with people who understand what I’m doing and who are there as a supportive sounding board when I think that my own ideas may have gone off the deep-end.  At least for me, working with a collaborative group means forming another sort of family, effectively counteracting the loneliness that is allegedly supposed to accompany the artistic process.

One of the stated goals of your dance company is to cultivate a professional performing arts scene in the Triangle. What does that mean to you?

Leah:  Oh man. That means a lot of different things to me. Primarily, it means showing the artists that you work with or that work for you that you value them as professionals – that their time and dedication is worth something.  In a very large sense, I think that means paying your collaborators if they’re working on a project of your design. I’ve discussed this with other artists and have been surprised how many of them agree with me on the idea that it’s not even so much about the amount that you’re paid, but more about the fact that someone thinks highly enough of you to take the effort to show you some token of their appreciation. The stipends we can afford aren’t even in the ballpark of what their time and dedication mean to the project, but we hope it’s at least some small way of saying, ‘look, you’re an amazing artist and this project could not have possibly happened without you’.

Besides paying people, I think the other primary way of helping cultivate the professional performing arts scene here is by providing platforms and situations for people to continue to develop professionally.  Basically, that means I spend a lot of time meeting with different people to discuss various ways of developing business workshops for artists, organizing professional-level technique classes for dancers, and figuring out ways in which we might better provide opportunities for choreographers to develop and present new work.

The hope with creating collaborative projects with other artists is also that their work will then be seen by artists within other disciplines who might not otherwise see it.  Additionally, if, for example, a film friend of mine comes up to me at some point and says that they need someone to score their film, I can then give them the name of one of the fabulous musicians with whom I worked on my last project.  It’s ultimately all about growing connections, accessibility and feasibility.

What is your current project, and what inspired the creation of it?

A scene from "Secrets I Never Told My Mother"

Leah: Our current project is an evening-length multi-media dance performance entitled Secrets I Never Told My Mother.  It’s a collaboration between myself and filmmaker Jon Haas of HaaStudios. The whole project began about two years ago when I was taking an Audio Documentary course at the Center for Documentary Studies in Durham. We had a short assignment to create a five-minute audio documentary piece on any subject we wanted. I had a few different ideas but when I mentioned to a few of my classmates that I was toying with the idea of asking people to tell me a secret they never told their mother they instantly responded with enthusiasm that they thought this was the idea I should go with for my project.

So I started interviewing people. The responses were phenomenal.  Some interviews lasted 20 minutes, some two hours.  The more I dove into the material the more I realized that I had effectively taken on a project much larger in scope than my 5 minute audio documentary piece.  People wanted to talk about this stuff! I decided to continue interviewing people after the class had ended and then decided that while audio documentary is a fabulous form of communication in its own right, the way that I communicate best (and the way in which I have the most training) is through choreography.

After working on another collaborative project with Jon, we started discussing future project dreams…I brought up Secrets I Never Told My Mother to him, not at all anticipating him wanting to get on board, but, lo and behold, he was intrigued and thus became my full-time collaborator on the project.  We then began rehearsing with dancers in March 2012…and bit by bit other pieces started to fall into place.

What are your future goals, after “Secrets I Never Told My Mother?”

Leah: That’s a big question. Take a nap. HA. Seriously though? Keep creating work, keep dancing, keep moving, keep collaborating.  Jon’s got some artistic dreams of his own that I’d love to help him realize.  There are a few dance film ideas being tossed around by other folks in the area that I’d be game to get involved in.  Probably start collecting for another big piece, hopefully dance in a few other people’s work, create some smaller pieces…mostly though I see myself needing to focus on growing myself and my community more before I pour myself into another big project.  Definitely focusing on my teaching more.  Oh, but there are other project ideas pouring out of my ears – it’s just working up the energy again to take another one on.  There are some old buildings I want to get into…but that’s getting ahead of myself.  Let’s just leave it a taking a nap.

Tim Scales runs Wagon Wheel Arts Promotion, providing marketing, public relations, producing, and online services to the arts and artists in North Carolina. Get in touch at

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