Grant to Help Launch Collaborative Arts Initiative

Memorial Hall

Since 2011, the Mellon Foundation has invested $4.69 million in Carolina Performing Arts, one of the campuswide partners in the University’s Arts Everywhere initiative. (Johnny Andrews ’97/UNC)

A new $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to Carolina Performing Arts, which plans to use the money toward a Creative Futures initiative featuring a series of multi-year artistic projects that engage artists, communities, faculty and students in co-creative partnerships.

The grant is the largest that Mellon has invested in Carolina Performing Arts to date.

“The ideas outlined in this grant are the distillation of a philosophical shift at our organization, affirming the idea that joining the arts, scholarship and community can be a driver of powerful change,” said Emil Kang, Carolina Performing Arts executive and artistic director. “We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this partnership in helping us continue to imagine new goals and realize them.”

Four artists, versed in artistic collaboration and social practice, will be selected as Creative Futures team organizers. Artists will work with faculty engaged in community-based research and with local partners to identify relevant issues, and undergraduate students will be able to earn service-learning course credit during their involvement with Creative Futures. The co-creative teams expect to explore diverse themes drawn from the communities, such as gentrification, free speech, women’s empowerment and community health.

“While the projects that grow out of these collaborations might not all be performance-based, they will all be participatory, collaborative and community-based,” said Kang.

The grant also includes funding for graduate assistants, a project director and undergraduate experiences stemming from the initiative. The CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, which opened in February, will serve as the artistic and community home for Creative Futures.

Dianne Harris, senior program officer with the Mellon Foundation, said: “With this experiment in co-creation, Carolina Performing Arts will empower communities through opportunities for collective self-expression, enrich faculty research and teaching, deepen undergraduate investment in local communities, create bridges between the campus and its surrounding community, and test a new working prototype for creative and performing artists.”

Since 2011, the Mellon Foundation has invested $4.69 million in Carolina Performing Arts. In 2012, the Mellon Foundation funded Carolina Performing Arts’ Arts@TheCore initiative, and in 2016, the Mellon Foundation granted $1 million for the DisTIL (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) fellowshipprogram that offers opportunities for visiting artists to collaborate with Carolina faculty and community over multiple semesters.

Carolina Performing Arts is one of the campuswide partners in the University’s Arts Everywhere initiative. The Arts Everywhere initiative launched in 2016 with a mission to embed the arts into daily life at Carolina. Arts Everywhere is also a signature initiativeof the University’s current $4.25 billion fundraising campaign, “For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina.”

Information about participating artists and the call for community involvement in Creative Futures is expected to be announced next spring.


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