Violinist Vijay Gupta headlines Kenan Institute's Artivate Summit

Violinist, social justice advocate and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Vijay Gupta is the keynote performer for Artivate, a two-day summit for artist leaders hosted by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA. Gupta will perform and speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12 at HanesBrands Theatre in Winston-Salem. The conference continues on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Tickets for Gupta’s appearance are $40 general admission or $75 for VIP seating and post-performance reception. Registration for the two-day summit, which includes the Gupta appearance, is $199 until Friday, July 12, and then $239. Get more information and register online.

UNCSA School of Music Dean Brian Cole will lead a question-and-answer session with Gupta following the performance.

Gupta joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 at age 19 after earning a master’s degree in violin performance from the Yale School of Music. Now an educator and passionate voice for social justice, he is the founder of Street Symphony, a musical advocacy program that empowers citizen-musicians to work in communities experiencing extreme poverty, incarceration and homelessness. Among the L.A. nonprofit’s most inspiring projects is an annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” featuring musicians from Skid Row.

In 2018, Gupta was named one of the 25 winners of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships. The “genius” grant, as it’s more commonly known, comes with a $625,000 prize that recipients can use in any way that they choose. The Foundation credited Gupta’s Street Symphony with “demonstrating the capacity of music to validate our shared humanity,” while also bringing attention to the social problems manifested in a place like skid row.

This is a place where you can come to have the spirit that it takes to be an artist leader affirmed. We want to inspire people, and then we want to activate people.

Corey Madden

The inaugural Artivate Summit, taking place August 12-13 at various locations in Winston-Salem, is designed for creatives of all kinds to facilitate collaboration across disciplines and sectors. It will facilitate cross-sector connections between the arts and community through interactive workshops; immersive arts experiences; and energizing networking, mentoring and community events.

“This is a place where you can come to have the spirit that it takes to be an artist leader affirmed. We want to inspire people, and then we want to activate people,” said Corey Madden, Executive Director of the Kenan Institute.  “We want people to leave believing they can do something they haven’t done before — be more influential, more engaged in their communities — because they see that somebody else did it.”

Artivate is a key component of the Kenan Institute’s new five-year strategic plan, the Creative Catalyst Initiative, which seeks to empower and equip the next generation of artist leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Southeast. The initiative aims to inspire creatives not only to build thriving careers, but also to positively affect the economic and social well-being of the communities in which they live and work.

“Artivate is not going to be a sit-down, listen-to-me, I’m-the-authority kind of conference,” said Nadiyah Dorsey-Quander, program manager for Creative Catalyst. “It’s going to be an up-on-your-feet, interactive and immersive experience that gives you tangible takeaways that you can put into action. Artivate is about giving you a sense of what is possible and inspiring new ideas that you did not have when you came in the door.”

Artivate is about giving you a sense of what is possible and inspiring new ideas that you did not have when you came in the door.

Nadiyah Dorsey-Quander

Another highlight of Artivate will be a lunchtime appearance on Tuesday by Donovan Livingston, an award-winning educator and spoken-word poet. In 2016, his Harvard Graduate School of Education convocation address “Lift Off” went viral, garnering more than 13 million views and appearances on CNN, NPR, BBC and Good Morning America. Now working on a doctorate in education, Donovan is examining the role of hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in student experiences in higher and postsecondary education.

During a visit to local community makerspace MIXXER, participants will meet with David J. Brown, the guest curator of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

An annual experiment in community and art, Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where participants live for a week and explore various forms of artistic self-expression. Brown plans an interactive session during which the group will dissect the 10 principles of Burning Man to discover which ones may be useful in their own creative pursuits.

“It is a tease of what actually happens out in the desert. We may even find other principles that are really important,” Brown said. “I have always adhered to the idea that art is a verb, not a noun — that it takes active participation in the work that artists do and how they operate in the creative culture.”

Artivate guests will spend Tuesday afternoon in Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District enjoying street performances and visiting with creatives of many kinds, including Lawren Desai, a film curator and founder of a/perture cinema, one of only 23 theaters in North America designated as a Sundance Institute Art House Project Theater.

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July 18, 2019