The inaugural Long Live Arts Festival, held last May, attracted more than 3,500 people, and one unwelcome guest.
"Last year we had rain," Andrea Chandler, who goes by Angie C, remembers. "So we're doing all the rain dances to keep that away."
As the Levine Center's arts ambassador, Chandler was asked to put together the 2017 edition of Long Live Arts, and she dove into the project with enthusiasm. The results of her work coordinating four major Charlotte arts institutions — the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, John S. and James L. Knight Theater, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, and the Mint Museum Uptown — will be on full display Saturday, June 3, at the Levine Center for the Arts complex.
Last week, Creative Loafing sat down with Angie C to find out what it takes to wrangle all those organizations into a united front, and what to expect at the Uptown event.
Creative Loafing: What motivated four major Uptown arts and culture institutions to come together for a festival like this?
Angie C: They decided to come together because of their common location, to create a Center for the Arts so they could have an organization that makes things happen. But until last year, there hadn't been any large events that included all of them. There was a common desire to get people down here, but as you know, there's always a lot of construction and people tend to shy away from that. So we wanted to remind people of what we have going on. We said, "Let's do something where all four of us come together."
We're bringing a lot of it outside so that people can see what's going on in these buildings, amidst all the Charlotte bustle and construction. That was always the heart behind it — to get people to see what's going on out here.
Not an easy feat, huh?
Oh yeah! (laughs) There's definitely a desire to get people out to experience art, so we all had that in common, but we're four different entitites, with our own different events, and we're all venues as well, with weddings and things, so to get everyone on the same page and focused on it, it was hard, but doable.
What should folks expect this year?
Basically the whole day, anything arts that can happen, is happening (laughs). So from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., people will be able to come and make things. All of the museums will be offering creative arts opportunities. Here at the Gantt, there will be a spot where you can make your own tote bag and T-shirts. The Mint will offer you a chance to make your own version of some of the great art that they are displaying. So a lot of hands-on stuff, free guided tours, and performances.
We will have Shafelee Patel, with an Indian folk group, and she's going to do a dance called the gujarat. We will have orchestral hip hop, marrying opera and neo-soul with classical instruments. There's going to be Cuban jazz, and West African dance. A day where literally all the different things you can see throughout the year at the museums and the Knight Theater are all on that day.
It sounds like a pretty Herculean effort. What motivated you to take it on?
My heart. As an arts educator and as an arts ambassador, my job is to allow people access to what we have here. Just look at the Mint exhibit (State of the Art, from April - September). You and I both know there are great things inside, but the percentage of people that come in from outside is so small that it's always in my heart to tell people, "This is what we're doing here — come see it!" This festival is an opportunity to do that, and this is what I love to do. This is here all the time.
I'm over here at the Gantt for the majority of the time, so to be able to see what's happening inside the Bechtler and the Mint in the same weekend — that's why we're having the festival. For example, the Knight is showing "Innovations" right now, which is a ballet but with poetry and people who aren't traditional ballet dancers. So getting to know what all four institutions are doing on the same days, and learning that your patrons are our patrons, too. It's been great for me to see what everyone else is doing. Not just to see it on social media, but to go inside. It's really dope — all the things we have to offer to Charlotte.